Ethnic Studies

Updates in Progress

This site is continually evolving as the department prepares for the next academic year. Please check back often for updates.

NEW Ethnic Studies Department

We are delighted to welcome students to Ethnic Studies, which will launch in fall 2024. This comes after years of student demands and institution building. In 1969, Western Washington University established the College of Ethnic Studies. This college was birthed by student protests and calls for greater BIPOC representation on campus and in the curriculum.

The college closed in 1978 but its legacy inspired our students to revitalize Ethnic Studies on campus. Our department builds on the legacy of the former College of Ethnic Studies by serving minoritized communities, promoting empowerment and liberation, and integrating theory and practice throughout the curriculum.

We look forward to seeing you in our classes and during our Department opening!

Borders, Diaspora, Resistance

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Students will analyze the creation and enforcement of borders; evaluate the political and social forces triggering migration and displacement and examine resistance within diasporic and transborder communities.

Indigeneity, Policing Abolition

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Students engage critical frameworks that are foundational in recognizing indigeneity grounded in land-based concepts of nation/tribe, sovereignty, and resurgence; analyze policing and surveillance of BIPOC people; and interrogate abolitionist spaces and practices.

Minoritization, Colonization Liberation

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Students interrogate the process of minoritization, reckon with on-going settler-colonialism, and envisage responses to institutionalized colonial and imperial oppressions that pursue liberation.

Mission Statement

Ethnic Studies at WWU will critically assess the lived experiences of racially minoritized and colonized peoples and their dignity in the face of subjugation, dispossession, and enslavement and its afterlives.

Core concerns that we explore are colonialism, imperial circuits of migration, border imperialism, social movements and resistance, and an ever-expanding carceral state. Interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches emphasized in our program include community-led research, literary criticism, critical discourse analysis, political economy, empirical methods, narrative production.

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Ethnic Studies centers the histories, epistemologies and lived experiences of minoritized peoples and Indigenous Nations.

Our approach is intersectional and transnational. Ethnic Studies courses challenge systems of power and oppression, and advance liberation, emancipation, and self-determining futures. Students critically analyze differences in power expressed by the state, civil society, and individuals.

Students challenge social constructions of race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and gender. Ethnic Studies stresses the unique perspectives, contributions, and knowledges of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and other minoritized communities.

This program of study also prepares our students to do collaborative and ethical research.

Students may select courses from Ethnic Studies and other departments grouped in each field. No more than 10 credits of 200-level courses can be applied toward completion of the field requirement. Please consult the Ethnic Studies website for the list of courses included in each field. Visit the full class list here.

'WE' are a brand new department that you want to be a part of.

A major in Ethnic Studies trains students to understand the social dynamics that govern communities of color, teaches them about diverse histories of resistance and liberation movements, and empowers then to enact social change towards a more just world and the betterment of the lives of BIPOC and minoritized people. Ethnic Studies majors will have opportunities to work in and advocate for communities of color in ethical and responsible ways. 

It prepares students for a range of careers in social work, diplomacy, journalism, law, medicine, and health, by giving them the tools to analyze, communicate, and produce knowledge. 

Declaring your intent to major in Ethnic Studies requires a completed and submitted Esign form. Contact the department with questions regarding the full process.

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