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Ethnic Studies

Program Overview

Major: Ethnic Studies

How is ethnic identity developed and maintained? When does conflict develop between ethnic groups? Why does ethnicity matter? The Ethnic Studies Program addresses questions of ethnic identity and relations between ethnic groups through a variety of interdisciplinary courses in areas ranging from anthropology to history to art.

The ethnic studies major is comprised of courses from a range of disciplines, with core courses in anthropology, education, religion, and sociology, and a variety of electives in additional disciplines including art, politics, history, music, and psychology. The faculty members who contribute courses to the program reflect the diversity of disciplines that deal with questions and issues related to ethnic identity and relations among ethnic groups.

Off-campus studies

A number of ethnic studies courses are offered off campus. For example, the anthropology course West Indian People and Culture takes students to Trinidad and Barbados, while Applied Anthropology focuses on tourism, health, and cultural survival in the Bahamas. Students may also conduct research at Chicago's prestigious Newberry Library and other historical locations during an on-site history course studying the urban transformation of Chicago.

Careers and complementary majors

Ethnic studies is an increasingly marketable major. Students who major in ethnic studies often go on to pursue careers in teaching, social work, and law. However, a background in the social, political, and legal status of ethnic groups is useful in many different careers, including psychology, counseling, health care services, journalism, community organizing, and a wide variety of civil service positions in all levels of government. As today's employers become increasingly aware of the importance of diversity in the workplace and throughout the world, they are seeking employees who are informed about ethnic diversity and who are able to work effectively with many different minority groups and constituencies.

Many students at Cornell complete double majors, and the ethnic studies program is flexible enough to be easily paired with a more traditional major, such as education, political science, psychology, English, economics, history, or sociology