Ethnic Studies is rooted in a social justice approach to studying historically marginalized communities of color. The Ethnic Studies & Social Justice (ESSJ) curriculum requirement is designed to equip students with the tools to challenge, understand, and contextualize the treatment of racially and ethnically marginalized groups in the United States. As a fluid and contested space, the United States has been a historically, geographically, and politically contingent region. These courses center the experiences of marginalized groups and examine the ways in which the existences and experiences of these groups have been historically shaped by oppression and systems of white supremacy. ESSJ coursework interrogates relationships between power, privilege, and oppression. Students explore how power and privilege in the past and present maintain oppression. Additionally, course content examines the resilience, activism, and advocacy of racially and ethnically marginalized groups to counter oppression and systems of white supremacy. Students learn to recognize key moments of liberation and those movements that advance social justice for racially and ethnically marginalized groups. Course content and materials may also examine and interrogate the oppression of other groups whose marginalized identities have been racialized and who have been thus oppressed as racial or ethnic minorities.
At the conclusion of an ESSJ course, students will be able to:
- Define and understand key critical theories and concepts that inform discussions of racism and colonialism as they overlap with other systems of power as historically situated in the U.S.
- Define and apply concepts of social justice within specific curriculum and course content to demonstrate the impact of racial and ethnic inequality in the U.S.
- Identify and evaluate unequal power relationships between and/or among, one or more marginalized groups in the U.S.
- Recognize and describe ways in which power and privilege are held and upheld by dominant groups in relation to marginalized groups and/or individuals.
- Analyze the effects of institutional oppression on marginalized groups in the U.S.
In 2023 MSU Denver replaced the multicultural graduation requirement with the ESSJ graduation requirement. Courses that carry ESSJ designation can be used to fulfill the multicultural requirement for students on an earlier catalog. To satisfy the ESSJ requirement, a course must appear on the list of approved ESSJ courses at the time of the enrollment in the course.