AAA pursues the creation of ethnic studies minor

The minor would be useful in an ethnically diverse job market.

The Asian American Association has begun looking into the creation of an ethnic studies minor.

"The ethnics minor would kind of encompass the other ethnic groups, so it's kind of like if you are interested in learning about your own culture or another culture," AAA Internal Vice President Christyona Pham said.

The ethnic studies minor was not the group's original idea, Pham said, but it could lead to more opportunities for other related programs.

"We wanted to make an Asian American studies program, but the interest in our population is kind of small right now, so we figured we would go with an ethnics minor because it would be easier to make an Asian American Studies program if we started with an ethnic minor," she said.

The minor is popular at many other universities, said Yolanda Escamilla, undergraduate coordinator of the University of California, San Diego. The minor is especially popular in Western states such as the University of California schools and universities in Washington, Arizona and Colorado.

A main factor in the popularity of ethnic studies both as a major and a minor in these states is the increased ethnic diversity, Escamilla said.

The ethnic studies minor would compliment every major because no matter which sector of the job market students are entering in California and other western states, ethnic diversity is a major factor, Escamilla said.

"I think we have a lot of interest in the minor," Escamilla said. "Considering that we have almost 70 percent Asian population in our university, we do have quite a bit of interest. So it serves a lot of our students."

The department of ethnic studies was added to UCSD in the early 1990s and is especially useful because such courses are not widely offered at the high school level.

"We don't have that many ethnic studies courses in high school, and when students come here, they're really surprised at what they learn," Escamilla said. "And they are pleasantly surprised because they can connect to their culture, their home and their communities."

According to the MU provost Web site, to establish a department minor, students must first start with the department curriculum committee and gain approval from multiple committees and administrators. College, school and interdisciplinary minors have similar requirements, except they need slightly different approval to propose the minor.

Pham said there is a Multicultural Certificate in the College of Arts and Science, which is similar to the ethnic studies minor.

"I think this could go well with it if you are not interested in just diversity issues, like if you wanted to have more of an emphasis on ethnics," Pham said.

Although the idea is still in its initial stages, AAA hopes to contact the professors in the Pan-Asian Faculty-Staff Association soon to ask them to teach required courses for the ethnic studies minor.

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