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12/4/96

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558


New ethnic studies program approved

The Faculty Senate on Nov. 21 approved a new interdisciplinary program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CSRE) that is attracting national attention even before the first classes are taught.

Both Al Camarillo, professor of history and newly appointed dean of CSRE, and Ramón Saldívar, vice provost for undergraduate education, said they had been receiving telephone calls from administrators at other universities, asking for copies of the proposed CSRE legislation.

Camarillo told the senators that the impetus for the new program could be traced to the 1970s, when students first began asking for programs in ethnic studies.

Two years ago John Shoven, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, appointed two faculty committees to explore whether Stanford should offer degree programs in Chicano and Asian American studies. Earlier that year Chicana students had staged a four-day hunger strike in support of a Chicano studies program and Asian American students had disrupted a meeting of the Faculty Senate to call for establishment of an Asian American studies program.

Camarillo said he anticipates that the program might have between 50 and 100 majors within three years, and perhaps six times as many minors. The success of CSRE, he said, would be marked not only by the number of majors it attracts, but also by the commitment of faculty and the expansion of the core curriculum.

In 1989, Camarillo said, Stanford received a substantial grant from the James Irvine Foundation and with that money more than 40 new courses were either developed or revised for the new interdisciplinary program. As a result, students now will be able to enroll in almost 170 courses that are cross-listed in CSRE and other departments in winter quarter and can major in one of four areas: Asian American studies, comparative studies in race and ethnicity, Native American studies, and Chicano/a studies.

Camarillo added that in 1993 the School of Humanities and Sciences received a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to fund faculty seminars in comparative studies of race and ethnicity.

"A constellation of faculty was brought together for the first time, crossing disciplines, crossing regions, crossing national boundaries in the discussion of race and ethnicity," Camarillo said. This core of faculty, he said, would constitute the foundation of the new research initiatives.

Camarillo will coordinate the Chicano/a studies major in the 1996-97 academic year, and Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, will succeed him the following year. Other track coordinators are Gordon Chang, associate professor of history, for Asian American studies, and Teresa Lafromboise, associate professor of education, for Native American studies.

The dean's office has allocated two faculty billets for CSRE, to be allotted to social science departments. Carolyn Wong, the first faculty member hired by the political science department specifically to teach in the program, will arrive in winter quarter and is expected to begin teaching in spring quarter. A faculty search currently is under way in the anthropology department.

Camarillo said that a research institute for graduate students and faculty will be co-directed by George Fredrickson, professor of history, and Claude Steele, professor of psychology.

Shoven, who called the program a "very good start," predicted that CSRE minors would be "very popular." He also said that Stanford is considering hosting a national conference in 1999 or 2000 about the comparative study of race and ethnicity in the United States.

"This is a chance to be quite innovative at Stanford in the way we bring these new programs together," he said.

Saldívar said he hoped students who chose to major in CSRE would be "able to articulate sharply and clearly the historical arguments on the present [race and ethnic] situation" in the United States, and that the program would become a "model of comparative inquiry."

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By Diane Manuel


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