Race and Ethnic Studies

“The categories of race and ethnicity emerged in specific socio-historic contexts.  By providing a shift in vantage point, off-campus study can help majors critically question the application of these terms and examine the ways in which categories of difference change shape, intersect, overlap or diverge in various times and places."
– Nicole Simek, Associate Professor, French & General Studies

Off-Campus Studies Mission Statement

Off-Campus Studies at Whitman College aims to develop in our students intercultural skills and global understanding for a lifetime of leadership.  We endeavor to achieve this goal by:

  • Providing off-campus study opportunities worldwide that offer high-quality academic content, instruction and evaluation.
  • Expanding learning opportunities for students and integrating the learning off-campus into their academic program to the fullest extent possible.
  • Promoting programs that increase a student’s foreign language and intercultural fluency.
  • Offering programs that foster an ability to question assumptions and think critically in the context of other worldviews.
  • Ensuring that programs are well integrated into the host community and encourage immersion of the student into the host culture. 
  • Developing the means by which returning students can actively contribute to international awareness and programming on campus, as well as in the Walla Walla community.

Off-Campus Studies can help Race and Ethnic Studies students…

  • Develop a comparative understanding of race and ethnic issues
  • Grapple with questions of cultural difference
  • Gain competence in a foreign language

What are the types of OCS programs recommended by the Race and Ethnic Studies department?

  • Programs that foster cultural and linguistic immersion.
  • US-based off-campus studies programs may also be suitable.

How does a semester or year of OCS help students in Race and Ethnic Studies prepare for graduate school or various career opportunities? 

  • Race and Ethnic Studies students often complete fieldwork and courses in areas underrepresented in Whitman’s curriculum while they are studying off-campus.  This helps them to develop more robust interdisciplinary approaches and, sometimes, geographic area-specific expertise.
  • The majority of Race and Ethnic Studies majors study in programs that require or offer foreign language study, so they also develop language skills useful for advanced research.

Which requirements can Race and Ethnic Studies majors fulfill while off campus?

  • Major elective credit
  • Language requirements for the major
  • A maximum of one major concentration course for the major
  • General Studies distribution credit
  • General degree credit

Planning Tips

As a general rule of thumb, the Race and Ethnic Studies Department recommends the following for students who wish to study off campus.

  • First-year students should take any RAES course of interest and meet with an RAES studies adviser.
  • Second-year students should take General Studies 245 Critical Voices and ideally complete the two foundation courses by the end of the second year.  They should also plan to complete their three “Concentration Courses” by the end of their junior year.
  • For Race and Ethnic Studies majors, off-campus study in either the fall or spring semester of their junior year works well.
  • Race and Ethnic Studies students can conduct research to be used in their Senior Thesis while they are studying off-campus, but must take care to consult with faculty at Whitman in order to ensure that IRB approvals are secured (when needed) and to ensure that they will be able to find adequate support for their project (i.e., faculty with the necessary expertise to advise them and access to adequate primary sources) once they return.

Credit Limitations

The maximum number of credits that can be applied to the Race and Ethnic Studies major from off campus studies (including credits from other U.S. institutions) is 12 credits (in addition to the language credits for the major) with the approval of your major adviser.  Students are advised to retain syllabi for all RAES courses taken abroad and to keep all coursework for courses that might fulfill a concentration course requirement.

Which Partner Programs are recommended by the Race and Ethnic Studies department?

Programs in which the academic focus complements the student’s RAES concentration

Advising Support

Students interested in Off-Campus Studies should attend an OCS First Step meeting in the fall of their second year, discuss their interests with their major adviser, and schedule an appointment with an OCS adviser.