Mission and Purpose

The College of Ethnic Studies provides safe academic spaces for all to learn the histories, cultures, and intellectual traditions of Native peoples and communities of color in the U.S. in the first-person and also practice theories of resistance and liberation to eliminate racism and other forms of oppression.

The College was founded on principles of community based research and teaching, student leadership and activism, and the self-determination of communities of color. Its work is anchored in, but not limited to, social justice movements among indigenous and oppressed peoples of the United States. More than forty years ago the College of Ethnic Studies emerged from a collective struggle for self-determination and this quest continues to be the organizing principle of the college.

We recognize the validity of multiple paradigms in the construction of knowledge and encourage the integrated study of all aspects of the human experience. Our commitment to self-determination is reflected in the College's founding curricular emphases on liberatory student-centered pedagogies and community participatory learning that promote creative thinking on combating social problems and disparities in communities of color and indigenous peoples.

In our teaching, scholarship, and creative work, we specifically analyze structural forms of oppression and address the intersections of race, ethnicity, with other forms of identity and social status. We additionally affirm comparative and trans-disciplinary approaches to national and diasporic questions. The College of Ethnic Studies aims to actively implement a vision of social justice focusing on eliminating inequalities motivated by race and ethnicity. Therefore our teaching, encouragement, and mentoring of students and student organizations have the goal of developing long-term leadership skills, knowledge of self, and collaborative activist abilities for those working within and between communities of color and indigenous peoples.

Photo of faculty and students in front of the writing on the wall in the Richard Oakes Multicultural Center which speaks about the goals of the center.

Selected faculty, students, and staff of the College of Ethnic Studies