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Proposal for program in comparative studies of race, ethnicity

STANFORD -- The recommendation for a new Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CSRE) goes to the Faculty Senate for approval Nov. 21, two years after faculty committees began discussing the feasibility of an interdisciplinary program.

"I'm already getting calls from friends at Columbia University and Cornell University, saying, 'We need to get a copy of your proposal,' " said Al Camarillo, professor of history and program chair. "They understand that Stanford is doing something innovative."

John Shoven, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, announced in February 1995 that a degree-granting CSRE program was being planned. He outlined three undergraduate tracks ­ Chicano/a studies, Asian American studies, and African and Afro-American studies ­ that would share a common core curriculum.

In October 1996, Shoven forwarded the proposal to the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, noting that "we believe this innovative program will enrich the curriculum by addressing some of the most pressing contemporary problems of our multiethnic and multiracial society."

The revised recommendation that Camarillo will present to the Faculty Senate this week features four majors: Asian American studies, comparative studies in race and ethnicity, Native American studies and Chicano/a studies. The new program also will be affiliated with two existing interdisciplinary programs, African and Afro-American studies and Jewish studies.

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.

Students will be able to begin taking courses in the new program in winter quarter. Introductory-level, or so-called "gateway" courses, will normally be taken in a student's sophomore year, and "capstone" courses in the senior year will include research seminars.

"We've already had students asking for meetings so we can tell them where we stand," Camarillo said. "The steering committee has decided that after [CSRE] is formally approved by the Senate, between then and Dead Week, we'll hold some type of public forum for students to come and find out about the structures."

Camarillo said he anticipates that between 50 and 100 students may sign up for the new majors, with several hundred more interested in minoring in the new interdisciplinary program.

More than 45 faculty are listed in the CSRE proposal as "participating" in the new program, and Camarillo said he expects that number to climb to about 70 when new hires are included. The proposal lists 167 cross-listed courses.

The dean's office has allocated two faculty billets for CSRE, to be allotted to social science departments. Carolyn Wong, the first faculty member specifically hired by the political science department 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.

"Five years ago there was no way in the world we could have launched this effort," Camarillo said. "But given the grant we had from the Irvine Foundation for multicultural course development, we've designed more than 40 courses over the past four years, with 10 courses specifically designed for CSRE. So we had a huge base to build on."

Two of the tracks, Native American studies and Chicano/a studies, will offer student internships immediately, and plans are being developed for similar opportunities in Asian American studies.

"We'd like to find ways for students to do work in communities and receive credit for it," Chang said. "Clearly, we have a number of different Asian American communities in the area and it would be nice if students could intern there. It's something we're exploring with the Haas Center."

Chang said he already has appointed an Asian American studies curriculum committee to oversee administration of the majors and minors. Members include David Palumbo-Liu, associate professor of comparative literature; Sylvia Yanagisako, professor of anthropology; Akhil Gupta, assistant professor of anthropology; and three students, Claudia Park, a junior currently majoring in American studies; Aly Remtulla, a junior majoring in anthropology; and Gavin Funabiki, a co-term student in sociology.

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

"People who are affiliated faculty are all excellent teachers who take their undergraduate teaching very seriously," Camarillo said. "The process of developing the major will entail more mentoring than advising because we really want to underscore the connection between faculty and students."

Although planning for the new interdisciplinary program has consumed more than two years, Camarillo said he is eager to see it take root.

"It'll be fun to see it mature," he said. "That's why I'm in this proposition, to see something new take hold."

-Diane Manuel-


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