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Plans for the new Yale ‘ethnic studies’ center remain ‘unclear’

“Questions remain” about the promised Yale center devoted to the “support [of] scholarship in race, ethnicity and social identity,” the Yale Daily News reports.

President Peter Salovey had announced on November 17 that the college would establish the center in response to “passionate student activism about racial issues,” saying it would “aid [in] the ‘intense study’ of race and ethnicity” at the school.

But additional, and specific, details remain elusive.

From the article:

Salovey’s email did not provide many details, such as what the center will be called or how it will interact with existing academic programs. Instead, he wrote that it would be “a prominent university center supporting the exciting scholarship represented by [studies of race, ethnicity and other aspects of social identity].” He told the News that the center will be administratively overseen by the Provost’s Office but will be planned by a faculty committee, whose members have yet to be appointed.

Other professors interviewed said that another major challenge Yale’s center will face is in attracting and retaining faculty members without departmental status or the ability to independently hire. [American Studies professor Stephen] Pitti said that in the early faculty proposals, the center did not have the ability to hire or retain faculty members.

The piece features the insights of professors that work in already-established programs, like that at the University of California-Berkeley.

Ethnic Studies Professor Lok Siu says “The critique of ethnic studies is that it studies identity and is therefore anti-intellectual.

“But ethnic studies is about examining power. At the heart of ethnic studies is a social-justice platform that examines the processes of marginalization. We are looking at power and social inequality.”

Right. Did someone say … “anti-intellectual?”

Note to President Salovey: This is what you get when you react impetuously based on a specious rationale.

Read the full article.

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Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.