The American Ethnic Studies (AES) program fosters critical perspective that seeks, as its purpose of inquiry, to explore how social structures and ideological discourses shape, influence, and constrain human activity. In particular, members of our program are committed to the discovery and exploration of how complex social relations of race, ethnicity, culture, and indigeneity, in conjunction with other social systems and structures, can give rise to unjust social relations, limit human endeavor, and normalize privilege and oppression. The primary focus of our program is on traditionally underrepresented communities in the social imaginary of the United States.
Our coursework and scholarship seek to confront issues of social change and social injustice by the careful analysis of practices that frequently do not receive sustained critical assessment. Methodological approaches to American Ethnic Studies vary widely but share some commonalities reflected in scholarship and coursework: an intersectional approach that examines race, ethnicity, culture, and indigeneity within broad social and historical contexts; a methodological approach to teaching that prioritizes student-centered learning; and an Ethnic Studies framework that critically analyzes power, inequality, identity, resistance and social change.
AES courses cover a broad range of historical and contemporary topics, both in the humanities and in the social sciences. These come from many departments including history, anthropology, rhetoric and media studies, politics, religious studies, sociology, and literature. Students in our interdisciplinary program learn comparative theories and methods of inquiry that prepare them to engage the responsibilities of citizenship in an increasingly multicultural global society. We endeavor to provide a total student experience that provides a reflective and socially relevant academic experience that bridges critical reflection and civic engagement.
The AES program prepares students to apply their education as professional in service industries, teaching, politics, social services, social policy, community advocacy, racial justice movements, cultural endeavors, corporate America, and more. In addition, our rigorous curriculum provides excellent preparation for advanced educational programs, including law, medicine, business, and other graduate study.
The American Ethnic Studies program sponsors speakers, faculty colloquia, campus dialogues, supports internships and work with the Chicago Urban Life Center, and with diverse regional communities. Participating faculty are involved in local and national research and service that brings together classroom knowledge with the lived realities of race, ethnicity and culture in contemporary U.S. society. Programs such as AES enable Willamette University to more effectively enhance its campus “inclusive excellence” efforts.
We invite you to learn more about American Ethnic Studies and our academic programs by exploring our web site. If you can’t find what you need here, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you.
The American Ethnic Studies Program