Re “Ethnic studies falter in new era,” Oct. 31
It was interesting to note that several campuses in the California State University system are cutting back their ethnic studies departments due to budget and enrollment problems. Asian studies, African American studies and so on will soon be thrown on the ash heap of academic history.
But critics of the cuts are unhappy. Ron Scapp, president of the National Assn. for Ethnic Studies, claims that debate over immigration, the election of the country’s first black president and the aftermath of the shooting of Trayvon Martin show that the nation is still grappling with issues of race and cultural diversity. Scapp claims ethnic studies offer a forum to tackle these topics.
Not so. They do just the opposite. Ethnic studies foment anti-American sentiment.
In 2010, Arizona banned ethic studies in its public schools because they fostered anti-American and racial resentment. Arizona took out Che Guevara’s portrait and replaced it with George Washington’s.
How about creating just one overall ethnic studies department on each campus and requiring students majoring in it to take an introductory course in each area offered (so they will be well rounded in their knowledge of this diverse field), while allowing them to take the bulk of their courses in their specific area of interest?
In addition, students could be encouraged or required to select a minor in a subject that leads to a viable career. For example, one majoring in ethnic studies with an Asian emphasis could minor in literature, preparing for a teaching career in Asian literature. One majoring in ethnic studies with a Latino/Chicano emphasis could minor in international relations or public policy.
Let’s not throw out ethnic studies; instead, let’s combine resources in one overall department and help students choose careers that complement their areas of specialized knowledge.
Rather than cutting back on ethnic studies at Cal State, these courses and the range of cultures studied should be expanded.
The demand for such courses would be significantly higher if students were required to take at least one ethnic studies course in something other than their own defined identity to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Awareness of the cultures of others is a path to understanding and a way to increase our solidarity in a nation of increasing diversity.
Looking at these courses as isolated from our general society and as catering to specific groups alone is a wrong-footed approach to what could be a valued step forward in the education of our citizens.
Allen J. Manzano