Degrees offered

  • Ethnic studies major
  • Ethnic studies minor

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 composed 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.

Benefits of One Course At A Time

Cornell's One Course At A Time curriculum meshes well with the interdisciplinary approach of the ethnic studies program and helps to develop a fuller, more holistic vision of the ethnic experience. Each course gives the opportunity to focus on a unique perspective, and students have time to work their way through literary texts, video, and research. 

Longer class meeting times allow for in-class debate and discussion, as well as visits from outside experts. Recently, for example, The Rev. Julius Calvin Trimble, resident bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Alan Scarfe, bishop of the Iowa Episcopal Diocese, visited campus and spoke to a Race and Ethnic Relations class about U.S. immigration policy and the role of churches in advocating for human rights.

Off-campus study and research

One Course At A Time provides unparalleled flexibility for off-campus study and research, since each course is self-contained with no competing courses. Off-campus courses with an ethnic studies perspective include:

  • Applied Anthropology: NGOs, Development, Tourism and Culture (the Bahamas).
  • Slavery and Environment in a Comparative Context (the Bahamas).
  • Women and Politics (India).
  • Literature and Social Justice (Chicago).
  • Economic Development in Rural Tanzania. 
  • Psychology of the Holocaust (Eastern Europe).
  • Comparative Education in Belize. 

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