Race and Ethnic Studies

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Rolvaag 503


Established at St. Olaf College in 1969, the Race and Ethnic Studies Program (abbreviated RACE) represents a multigenerational faculty and student commitment to the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity. Our program centers the concerns and experiences of people of color and proceeds from the recognition that race and ethnicity have been and continue to be crucial components within interlocking systems of oppression, as well as powerful sites of intersectional resistance. In the United States, our work focuses on the social, cultural, and historical contributions and lived situations of African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx, and Middle Eastern Americans. Migration — historical and contemporary, voluntary and involuntary — is an experience that unites many of these communities. Our program therefore encompasses coursework involving the cultures and nations outside of the U.S. from which such peoples are drawn; it can also include the study of racial and ethnic minorities in other nations. Globalization has brought greater urgency to recognizing that the economic, social, and political forces to which people of color are subjected are not limited to those that originate within the nations in which they reside. Thus we also attend to transnational coalitions, experiences, and phenomena relevant to people of color in the United States and elsewhere.

Overview of the Major

The race and ethnic studies major includes any one of the courses numbered RACE 121-125, (usually RACE 121) and seven other courses from at least three different departments, plus a senior project. One of the seven courses may be an independent study or research, and one may be an internship approved by the program director. Off-campus study is encouraged.

Unlike many majors, which prescribe sequences of courses, race and ethnic studies allows students considerable freedom in choosing classes that fulfill their interests (and often, at the same time, fulfill general education requirements). Many race and ethnic studies majors are double majors, because race and ethnic studies courses complement many majors in the humanities, interdisciplinary studies, social and natural sciences, and the fine arts.

Race and ethnic studies also offers a concentration consisting of RACE 121 and four other courses from at least two different departments or programs.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Concentration


Requirements for the Major

RACE 121Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies1.00
or RACE 122 Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies
Select a minimum of seven other approved courses taken in at least three departments or programs. 17.00
Total Credits8

Race and ethnic studies majors are required to complete a senior project and to give an oral presentation of their findings before the program faculty in early May of their senior year. Study off-campus on diversity topics is encouraged. Students may wish to link a race and ethnic studies major with another one from a department represented in the program.

Requirements for the Concentration

RACE 121Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies1.00
Select four other approved courses taken in at least two departments or programs.4.00
Total Credits5

Required Course

RACE 121: Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies

This course provides an introduction to critical concepts and key readings about race and racism that are important to the field of Ethnic Studies. Focusing on identities and communities, students learn about racial formation and difference in U.S. and comparative cultural and historical contexts. How does race intersect with class, gender, nation, and sexuality to produce privileges and oppressions? Students survey the emergence of Ethnic Studies through literary texts including art, creative writing, film, music, popular culture, and/or the sciences to become acquainted with interdisciplinary approaches and how concerns for racial equity and social justice formed this academic field. Offered annually. Also counts toward Latin American studies major and Africa and the African Diaspora and Latin American studies concentrations.

Elective Course

RACE 250: Topical Seminar

Students apply interdisciplinary theories and methods to selected topics in race and ethnic studies. The course employs a discussion format, focusing on critical reading and literary texts. Offered in alternate years. May be repeated if topic is different.

RACE 252: Topical Seminar

Students apply interdisciplinary theories and methods to selected topics in race and ethnic studies. The course employs a discussion format, focusing on critical reading and texts with a social science emphasis. Offered in alternate years. May be repeated if topic is different.

RACE 294: Academic Internship

RACE 394: Academic Internship

RACE 298: Independent Study

RACE 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.

RACE 398: Independent Research

Approved Courses

AFAD 231 Africa and the Americas: The Diaspora Experience

AMCON 211 Fear and Hope (completion of American Conversations counts for one course for Race and Ethnic Studies)

AMST 205 (when the final research project focuses on race/ethnicity, director approval required)

ART 265 African-American Art

ART 278 Top: Race/Difference in Medieval Art

ASIAN 123 Asia in America

DANCE 107 Topics in Rhythm in Dance (0.25)

DANCE 108 American Dance: Native and Immigrant Traditions (0.25)

DANCE 246 Dance in the United States

EDUC 170 Urban Schools and Communities (off-campus)

EDUC 260 Foundations in Education

EDUC 347

EDUC 378 Multicultural Education in Hawaii: Seminar and Practicum (off-campus)

EDUC 379 Urban Education Practicum and Seminar (off-campus)

ENGL 108 The Hero and the Trickster in Post-Colonial Literature

ENGL 200 Topics in Cross-Cultural Literature

ENGL 201 Transatlantic Anglophone Literature

ENGL 203 Asian American Literature

ENGL 205 American Racial and Multicultural Literatures

ENGL 207 Women of the African Diaspora

ENGL 209 Arab American Literature and Film

ENGL 220 Topics in Literary History (when taught with the topic: Literature of American Slavery)

ENGL 251 Major Chicano/a Authors

ENGL 280 Topics in Genre (when taught with the topic: Muslim Women Writers)

ENGL 340 Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: American (when taught with the topic: 21st Century Ethnic American Poetry)

ENGL 345 Topics in American Racial and Multicultural Literatures

ENGL 347 Topics in Post-Colonial Literatures

FREN 271 The Francophone World (when taught with the topic: Les Antilles/The Caribbean)

FREN 373 Genre Studies

HIST 151 Slavery in African History

HIST 165 Slavery in the Americas

HIST 181 Civil Rights Revolution

HIST 199 American History Since 1865

HIST 256 Slavery in West Africa: Ghana (abroad)

HIST 270 Major Seminar: American History

HIST 277 African-American History

HIST 278 Experiencing Southern History (off-campus)

HIST 282 Topics in Native American History

HIST 288 America in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era

HIST 290 Reel America: U.S. History in Film

HIST 291 Introduction to African History

HIST 297: Race/Gender/Sports in America

HIST 320 Seminar: Modern Europe (when taught with the topic: Holocaust and History)

HIST 370 American Seminar (when taught with the topic: Capitalism and Slavery)

HIST 395 Oral History Seminar (when the final research project focuses on race/ethnicity, director approval required)

MUSIC 136 American Popular Music through the Lens of Prince

MUSIC 231 History of Jazz

MUSIC 237 World Music

MUSIC 345 Advanced Study in Music History (when taught with the topic: Music and Race)

MUSIC 345 Advanced Study in Music History (when taught with the topic: Music of African Christianities)

NORW 224 Topics in Contemporary Nordic Literature: A Window on Society (when taught with the topic: Scandinavian Multicultural Film and Literature)

NORW 244 The Sámi: Traditions in Transition

PHIL 255 Race and Social Justice

PSCI 244 Race and American Politics

PSCI 258 World Politics

PSCI 350 Seminar: Immigration and Citizenship (when the final paper and RIN projects focus on race/ethnicity, director approval required)

PSYCH 390 Issues in Psychology (when taught with the topic: Issues in Diversity)

REL 121 Bible in Culture and Community (when taught with the topic: "Belonging as Blessing and Challenge" or "Politics in the Bible and the Bible in Politics")

REL 231 Religion at the US-Mexico Border

REL 232 The Insurgent Multiculturalism of Beloved Community

REL 267 African-American Religious Thought in the 20th Century

SWRK 221 Social Work and Social Welfare

SWRK 280 Social Realities in South Africa (abroad)

SWRK 373 Just Practice

SOAN 128 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

SOAN 237 Forging a Latin American Culture

SOAN 247 Disasters

SOAN 261 Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective

SOAN 264 Race and Class in American Culture

SOAN 269 Urban Sociology

SOAN 299 Topics in Sociology/Anthropology (when taught with the topic: Sociology of Music)

SPAN 273 Cultural Heritage of the Hispanic U.S.

SPAN 276 Spanish as a First and Second Language

SPAN 311 Language in Society

THEAT 180 Text and Performance

THEAT 379 Topics in Interpretation and Theater (when taught with the topic: Staging Faith: Religion and Spiritualism in Early 20th Century American Theater)

WRIT 111 First-Year Writing (when taught with the topic: Race and Power or Seeing Race in the Twenty-First Century)

In addition, some other sections of REL 121 Bible in Culture and Community and WRIT 111 First-Year Writing may count toward the race and ethnic studies major or concentration, depending on topic. Petition the director of race and ethnic studies for approval.

Director, 2020-2021

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs

Associate Professor of English

poetry and poetics; creative nonfiction; Asian American literature; critical adoption studies

Ibtesam âl-Atiyat

Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

Arab society; gender; social movements; Islamic movements

Joshua R. Anderson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science

American politics; political philosophy; history of science

Anthony Bateza

Assistant Professor of Religion

Reformation studies

Jessica M. Benson

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Maggie A. Broner

Professor of Romance Languages - Spanish

Hispanic linguistics; culture; second language acquisition

Heather Campbell

Associate Professor of Education

ESL; reading; special education; Director of Assessment

Mary S. Carlsen

Professor of Social Work and Family Studies

social policy; global social work; professional ethics; end of life care; family studies

Christopher L. Chiappari (on leave)

Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

Guatemala; religion; immigration

Vivian Choi

Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

South Asia; science and technology; disasters

Marc David

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

race and class; history and memory; public policy and the politics of knowledge; North America

Kari Lie Dorer

Associate Professor of Norwegian

Norwegian language and culture; applied linguistics; Sami studies; Nordic film.

Michael W. Fitzgerald

Professor of History

African-American history; Civil War and Reconstruction; Southern America

Carlos Gallego

Associate Professor of English

Chicano/a studies; 20th century American literature; comparative ethinic studies; philosophy and critical theory; cultural studies

Steven C. Hahn

Professor of History

colonial America; Native American history; piracy

Joan Hepburn

Associate Professor of English

African American literature; drama; race and ethnic literature; western African drama in English

Abdulai Iddrisu

Associate Professor of History

African history; Islam in Africa

Heather J. Klopchin

Professor of Dance

modern dance technique; ballet technique; dance history; Companydance

Judy Kutulas

Professor of History

20th-century U.S. history; U.S. women's history; popular and material culture

Elizabeth A. Leer

Associate Professor of Education

English education; reading; curriculum and instruction

Kristina Medina-Vilariño

Associate Professor of Romance Languages-Spanish

Caribbean Studies; 20th- and 21st-century Latin American studies; contemporary Latino studies; race and ethnic studies

Linda Y. Mokdad (on leave)

Assistant Professor of English

film history; classical film theory; feminist film theory; art cinema; Arab cinemas

Jonathan T. Naito

Associate Professor of English

20th- and 21st-century British and Irish literature; postcolonial studies; black and Asian British literature; Samuel Beckett

Leon Narvaez

Professor of Romance Languages - Spanish

Hispanic culture, language, and literature; migration and other interdisciplinary studies

SooJin Pate

Adjunct Assistant Professor of English

Rosemary A. Pfarr-Baker

Instructor in Education

counseling; educational opportunity; Director of Field Experience and Licensure

Hannah Ryan

Assistant Professor of Art and Art History

David C. Schalliol

Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

social stratification; urban sociology; visual sociology; criminology; education

Susan E. Smalling

Associate Professor of Social Work and Family Studies

anti-oppressive research and practice; indigenous populations; family and child welfare

Maria F. Vendetti

Assistant Professor of Romance Languages - French

20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone literature; literature and testimony during and after the Algerian War of Independence; literary and filmic representations of torture, trauma, and war

Arneshia L. Williams

Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance

African Fusion and Hip Hop

Ka F. Wong

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

language pedagogy; cultural studies; Asian American studies; visual culture