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Comparative Ethnic Studies

College of Liberal Arts

Comparative ethnic studies is the interdisciplinary study of the differences between people — mainly race, ethnicity and nation, but also sexuality, gender and other factors — and how these differences shape the way people interact.

San Luis Obispo, California

The Ethnic Studies curriculum provides you with courses that advance your analysis of race, ethnicity and cultural difference in an increasingly heterogeneous and complex world. Courses integrate the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as the sciences and technology.

Ethnic Studies Curriculum

About the Program

Comparative ethnic studies prepares you to understand the social, cultural, political, historical and economic factors that have shaped meanings of race, class, gender and sexuality.

You will study how cultures form and express themselves and conduct independent analyses of historical and contemporary texts, the arts, popular culture, and social and occupational interactions. You will learn the history and impact of racism and discrimination and how groups gain and use power over others, as well as how we can use the lessons of the past to build a more just and equitable future. This knowledge prepares you to work, collaborate and interact more effectively in an increasingly diverse and globalized world. The department comprises one of the most diverse, yet cohesive, student populations on campus. We place a special emphasis on community and value individual students for the variety of talents and interests they bring. 

Learn by Doing

Through coordination with communities across California, you will gain first-hand knowledge about the lived realities of social inequality as well as the tools to critically analyze the practices that maintain them. You will explore cultural, social, political, and economic self-determination and self-representation of underrepresented groups and how to expand human rights in a national and global context. This could mean organizing events celebrating underrepresented cultural traditions or holding workshops to cultivate community advocacy.

Student performing at Hip Hop Symposium

Hip Hop Symposium

Organize a performance dedicated to hip-hop culture, including emceeing, deejaying, breaking and graffiti writing.

Our Graduates

Ethnic studies majors are prepared for careers in education, government and community organizations. Many of our graduates go on to professional schools in areas such as law, social work and health or into graduate studies in all areas of the arts and sciences.