The 2009-10 academic year marks a watershed moment for the Ethnic Studies Program at Santa Clara University—its 40th Anniversary! Through the incredible passion and vision of past students, faculty, administrators, and staff at Santa Clara University during the student movements of the late 1960s that challenged existing racial formalisms in higher education and was a microcosm of the civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-war movements of the time, so began the birth of Ethnic Studies programs across the nation. Santa Clara University would witness similar movements that would make it one of the oldest Ethnic Studies programs in the nation. Since its genesis in 1969, the Ethnic Studies Program at Santa Clara University has witnessed both positive and turbulent periods that culminated in subsequent movements such as the peaceful Unity III movement in 1999, which is commemorated in the 40th Anniversary logo to the right. A great deal of energy envelopes and surrounds the Ethnic Studies Program today as two new full time faculty members, Dr. Perlita Dicochea and Dr. Robin Hayes, joined Dr. Ramon Chacon and me, to make up a distinctive and distinguished core faculty of junior and senior scholars who study interdisciplinary aspects of race, ethnicity, and community. The approval of a companion major in Ethnic Studies is on the near horizon that would allow Santa Clara students to enhance their primary majors in whatever field with a nuanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the intersections of race and ethnicity with historical and contemporary issues such as political power, community agency, social movements, cultural citizenship, economic and social policies, transnational capital and investment, ethnic entrepreneurs, criminal justice, and environmental racism.
In hindsight, the protests and demands of those students in 1969 across the nation, particularly in California and the Bay Area, to allow for a more inclusive curriculum that specifically examines the history and contemporary issues of minority communities were prophetic as the region and state have become transnational and multi-racial and ethnic in its characteristics. Today, in Santa Clara County, over fifty percent of its residents speak a language aside from English. Asian Americans and Latinos comprise of 30.5 percent and 25.7 percent, respectively, of Santa Clara County’s total population and will likely witness greater increases in the next U.S. census. And in the state of California, for the first time in our nation’s history, no majority racial group exists with minorities comprising the clear majority. The mission of the Ethnic Studies Program is to prepare our graduating students for ways to understand emerging and complex issues that California is experiencing in the public and private sectors to better position Santa Clara University as the region’s premier institution in studying these issues in Silicon Valley and in California in general.
To highlight these emerging racial and ethnic issues, the Ethnic Studies Program is proud to celebrate its 40th Anniversary during the 2009-10 academic year with many exciting events, panels, book talks, and film screenings that involve alumni, current students, faculty, and outside speakers.
We hope that all of you, alumni and current students, staff, and faculty can join us in on the year’s festivities and to find out what this excitement is all about!