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St. John’s University to offer minor in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

St. John’s University is offering a new minor beginning this spring semester — in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.

The New York City-based Catholic institution noted in a March 1 announcement that the new minor will benefit students “seeking to explore the myriad ways social justice issues are shaped by class, ethnicity, gender, race and other forms of group differentiation.”

“The 15-credit minor is a space for cutting-edge research and critical pedagogy, covering both contemporary and historical structural and social inequalities, international migration, health care, and more,” the announcement reads. “Through the program, students examine the political struggles of marginalized people as a means for exploring innovative strategies for social change.”

CRES Director Natalie Byfield, a sociology and anthropology professor, said the minor came about via student demand “dating back to 2015.”

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Byfield told the St. John’s student paper The Torch that the minor’s subject matter “applies to all fields of work” — students “who develop a mastery in this area will be able to apply it to any career path they take.”

Some of the decisions behind the course implementations were also shaped by things students have encountered or heard about in current social, economic and political environments, according to Byfield. These kinds of conversations mirror the larger national conversations surrounding systematic racism, economic inequality and police brutality.

“The same global social, economic, and political forces that created and sustain white supremacy, colonialism, imperialism [and] wide-spread economic inequality in nations across the globe also breed many of the problems we also experience across the globe, including the climate destruction that is threatening the entire planet,” Byfield said.

“If there was ever a moment to study these topics, the time is now.”

Courses in the minor include Methodologies in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Anti-Blackness around the Globe, and Comparative Racializations: Blackness, Indigeneity, Asianness, and Latinidad.

Byfield said the minor will support St. John’s Equity and Inclusion efforts which include the Equity and Inclusion Council, Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion and RESPECT (Respond and Partner to Engage our Community Team), the school’s bias response team.

Read the university announcement and Torch article.

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