Established at St. Olaf in 1969, Race and Ethnic Studies (abbreviated RACE) represents a multigenerational faculty and student commitment to the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity. Our program centers the contributions and experiences of people of color, primarily though not exclusively in the United States, 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 U.S., our work focuses on the social, cultural, and historical contributions and lived experiences 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.
As such, our program encompasses coursework involving the cultures and nations outside of the United States 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.
At St. Olaf College:
- Independent research opportunities such as the senior project enable majors to pursue their questions about race and social justice.
- Off-campus study in South Africa, Ghana, the southern United States, and Chicago encourage critical comparative thinking about race and ethnicity.
- Drawing upon methodologies from the humanities, social sciences, interdisciplinary studies, and fine arts, the RACE major or concentration is a popular complement to coursework in another program or department.