Race and Ethnic Studies

Director, Fall 2014: Jason Pribilsky, Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Director, Spring 2015: Zahi Zalloua, French and Interdisciplinary Studies (on Sabbatical, Fall 2014)
Susanne Beechey, Politics
Shampa Biswas, Politics
Melisa S.L. Casumbal-Salazar, Politics (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Helen Kim, Sociology (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Nina Lerman, History
Bruce Magnusson, Politics, Chair, Division I
Gaurav Majumdar, English
Gilbert Mireles, Sociology
Suzanne Morrissey, Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Matt Reynolds, Art History and Visual Culture Studies
Nicole Simek, French and Interdisciplinary Studies, Chair, Division II
Lisa Uddin, Art History and Visual Culture Studies (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Jacqueline Woodfork, History

Race and Ethnic Studies Website »

The race and ethnic studies major takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race and ethnicity — What do these categories of difference mean? How have they been defined, constructed, and applied in different socio-historic contexts? How do they intersect or overlap with other axes of difference (e.g., gender, class, nation, religion)? Exploring these questions with analytical tools and approaches developed in a range of academic disciplines, this major leads to a critical examination of many historical and contemporary social issues that arise from the institutionalization of race and ethnicity.

In all courses, the student’s work should focus on issues of race and ethnicity whenever that is possible.

In addition to the 36 credits required for the major, the student will complete three courses totaling at least 11 credits of college-level study in a language other than his or her first language. Courses used to satisfy requirements in other majors or minors cannot also be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major or minor.

Distribution: Courses completed in race and ethnic studies apply primarily to the cultural pluralism distribution area.

Learning Goals: Upon graduation, a student will be able to:

  • Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge
    • Identify and interpret important ideas, assumptions, and debates that are central to the study of race and ethnicity.
    • Explore the intersection of broad theoretical claims with different socio-historic contexts, as well as with other categories of difference such as nation, class, religion, and gender.
    • Develop an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race and ethnicity and a critical ability to analyze the historical and contemporary issues arising from the institutionalization of racial and ethnic differences.
  • Critical Thinking
    • Analyze issues with a variety of tools and approaches in a range of disciplines.
  • Research Experience
    • Conduct a substantial academic inquiry about a focused research question, demonstrating a critical awareness of competing arguments, the mastery of relevant methods, and a capacity to generate substantive results from original research.

The Race and Ethnic Studies major will complete two foundational courses, a concentration designed with the adviser and approved by the Race and Ethnic Studies Steering Committee, a senior seminar and thesis, and elective courses totaling 36 credits and chosen such that the overall coursework is drawn from a minimum of three departments. Three courses in addition to the senior seminar and thesis must be at the 300 or 400 level; at least two of these must be taken at Whitman. No more than 12 credits earned in off-campus programs and transfer credit, nor more than four credits in independent study, may be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major requirements.

Foundation courses: General Studies 245, plus one other course centered on racial and ethnic analysis (English 376; History 268; History 371; Politics 259; Sociology 267; World Literature 320).

Concentration: Three courses from at least two disciplines (typically nine to 12 credits) defining focus of study in a topic or region, providing context for the thesis. Two of the three courses must be taken at Whitman, and independent study classes are not permitted. The concentration must be submitted to the Race and Ethnic Studies Steering Committee by the end of the week following Thanksgiving break in the fall semester of the junior year. Examples of regional concentrations include: race and ethnicity in Latin America, ethnicity and race in Africa, U.S. race and ethnic studies, African American studies, or race and ethnicity in South Asia. Examples of thematic or topical concentrations include: ethnicity and identity; race and gender; literary representations of race and ethnicity; race and class; ethnicity and nation; race, ethnicity, and nature; religion and ethnicity. The proposal must include a title, a list of the three courses proposed, and an explanation of how the courses fit together and complement each other.

Electives: Usually three courses chosen to complement the concentration, such that, in combination with foundational and concentration coursework, the student has worked in three disciplines overall. It is recommended that the student explore more than one geographic area.

Capstone: A senior seminar (four credits) in the fall, in which students discuss common readings and case studies and begin thesis research, and completion of thesis (two credits) in the spring. The oral portion of the major exam will begin with a thesis defense and proceed to a broader synthesis of the student’s work in the major. Students will propose thesis topics to the Race and Ethnic Studies Steering Committee by midterm in the second semester of the junior year.

Language requirement (in addition to the 36 credits required for the major): The language requirement places value on the linguistic dimensions of difference and provides students with at least minimal direct exposure to this dimension. The student will complete three courses totaling at least 11 credits of college-level study in a language other than the student’s first language. No more than two languages are allowed within the 11 credits. These credits may be earned at Whitman College, through transfer credit from accredited U.S. institutions of higher learning, or from a Whitman-approved study abroad program.

The Race and Ethnic Studies minor: The student completing a minor in race and ethnic studies will take General Studies 245, one of the foundation courses (see list below), and three elective courses chosen from the list of eligible courses. Courses used to satisfy requirements in other majors or minors cannot also be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major or minor.

  1. “Foundation” courses: courses incorporating race and ethnicity as central, defining issues:

General Studies 245 Critical Voices
English 376 Colonial and Anti-Colonial Literature
History 268 Migration Ethnicity in the US
History 371 African American History
Politics 100 Introduction to Race, Gender and the Politics of the Body
Politics 259 Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion
Sociology 267 Race and Ethnic Group Relations
World Literature 320 Race, Trauma, Narrative
World Literature 395 Contemporary Literary Theory

  1. Race and ethnic studies courses: a list from which majors will draw concentration and elective courses in consultation with adviser and approved by committee. For a thorough listing of courses used in the race and ethnic studies program, please consult the department web page at www.whitman.edu/academics/courses-of-study/race-and-ethnic-studies.

100 Special Topics in Race and Ethnic Studies
4

Courses under this category explore selected topics in Race and Ethnic Studies at the introductory level. Any current offerings follow.

105 Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies
4, x Beechey and Uddin

This team-taught, interdisciplinary course is designed to introduce students to the foundational concepts and critical debates animating the study of race and ethnicity. We will interrogate categories of race and ethnicity, in the United States and globally, in contemporary and historical contexts.

301 Special Topics in Race and Ethnic Studies
2-4

The course explores selected topics in race and ethnic studies. Any current offerings follow.

405, 406 Independent Studies in Race and Ethnic Studies
1-3, 1-3 Staff

Directed readings of topics or works selected to complement the RAES program. The number of students accepted for the course will depend on the availability of the staff. No more than four credits in independent study may be used to satisfy the race and ethnic studies major requirements. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

490 Senior Seminar
4, x Pribilsky

Taught by a race and ethnic studies faculty member with guest participation by others, this seminar is intended to engage senior majors in case studies focused on race and ethnicity. Readings, discussion, and papers, including a proposal for the thesis. Required of and limited to senior race and ethnic studies majors. (Fall degree candidates should plan to take this seminar at the latest possible opportunity.) Open to senior race and ethnic studies majors.

497 Thesis
2, 2 Staff

Completion of a thesis based on the previous semester’s plan. Prerequisite: Race and Ethnic Studies 490.

498 Honors Thesis
2, 2 Staff

Completion of an honors thesis. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in race and ethnic studies. Prerequisites: Race and Ethnic Studies 490 and admission to honors candidacy.