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Cal State Approves Ethnic Studies Requirement

July 23, 2020

The California State University system's governing board on Wednesday approved the inclusion of a course on ethnic studies and social justice as a general education requirement. The one-course requirement will go into effect in 2023 and can be fulfilled by a wide range of course offerings on historical, current and emerging ethnic studies and social justice issues, the system said in a news release. It was the first significant change to Cal State's general education requirements in 40 years.

“Our goal is for CSU students, from every major and in every workplace, to be leaders in creating a more just and equitable society,” Timothy P. White, the system's chancellor, said in statement. “This action, by the CSU and for the CSU, lifts Ethnic Studies to a place of prominence in our curriculum, connects it with the voices and perspectives of other historically oppressed groups and advances the field by applying the lens of social justice.”

The California Faculty Association criticized the move, saying the requirement was diluted and created without consultation with the CSU Council of Ethnic Studies.

"How the board can look at anyone with a straight face and say that an Ethnic Studies requirement can be fulfilled without ever having to take a course in Ethnic Studies is beyond believable," said Charles Toombs, the association's president. "Given how oppressive the CSU’s resolution is, no one will be surprised to hear that the CSU refused to consult with the CSU Council of Ethnic Studies."

(Note: This article has been updated from a previous version, which included an erroneous assertion by the California Faculty Association about Cal State's consultation with the CSU Academic Senate.)

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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