SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release


Scholars convene on role of ethnic studies in new era

As a new American dialogue on race emerges, experts from around the world gather at San Francisco State University to discuss the role of ethnic studies in education


SAN FRANCISCO, September 30, 2009 -- San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies will host an international conference to delve into issues at the heart of the new national dialogue on race that has emerged since the U.S. elected its first African American president. The October 7 - 10 conference, "Ethnic Studies 40 Years Later: Race, Resistance and Relevance," will address ethnic studies and more traditional approaches to the study of race and culture in a global environment.

Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Kenneth Monteiro emphasized that the conference is an excellent opportunity for the media as well as the general public. "While tangential discussions about race continue to permeate the political airwaves and stalk the first African American president of the United States, we invite the media to more actively engage ethnic studies experts and scholars across the country," Monteiro said. "These are the people who are best equipped to frame the evolving conversations about race, culture and power in the 21st century."

The ethnic studies approach in higher education arose after a national student movement in 1968-69 that protested the misrepresentation of the histories, cultures and knowledge of indigenous peoples and communities of color in university classrooms and programs. Today hundreds of ethnic studies departments and classes exist at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. The College of Ethnic Studies at SF State is the only college in the country devoted to the discipline. 

The College of Ethnic Studies was founded in response to the 1968 SF State student strike when faculty, students and staff demanded the establishment of the disciplines offered by the college today, including the departments of Africana, American Indian, Asian American and Raza Studies. This semester, 70 faculty members are teaching more than 6,000 students. The College is also home to the Cesar Chavez Institute for community-based participatory research in educational and health equity and a program on race and resistance and the Arab Muslim Diaspora.

The conference, which marks the 40th anniversary of the birth of ethnic studies and the founding of the College of Ethnic Studies, is expected to draw more than 3,000 alumni, faculty, students and ethnic studies scholars from seven countries and 35 universities. More than 120 panelists in plenary and workshop sessions will discuss a range of topics including a review of a proposed K-12 ethnic studies curriculum in San Francisco public schools and a session titled "Race, the Power of Illusion," which will examine how the artificial construct of race has historically maintained such a powerful hold on human consciousness.

Events will conclude at a gala reception at the St. Francis Yacht Club to honor luminaries who made the College of Ethnic Studies possible including Danny Glover, actor, activist and SF State alum; Nathan Hare, first chair of the SF State Black Studies department; Elizabeth Parent, former chair of American Indian Studies department; Ana Montes, activist and former Raza Studies faculty and Jim Hirabayashi, the first chair of the College of Ethnic Studies.

For more information on the College of Ethnic Studies and the schedule of conference speakers and content, visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~ethnicst/ or call (415) 338-1694.

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PLEASE NOTE:  MEDIA should register and address their inquiries to Denize Springer in University Communications at (415) 338-1665 or denize@sfsu.edu





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