The Ethnic Studies concentration at Brown emphasizes the histories of diverse racial groups within and across the borders of the United States, including examining issues of diaspora, migration, social movements, and the political economies of social inequality and racial formation. Concentrators strive for intellectual fluency in a range of critical approaches to race and ethnicity across disciplines, and demonstrate this fluency through the composition or creation of a significant piece of original research or creative work.
Brown University established an Ethnic Studies concentration in 1996, originally within the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA). In the Fall of 2013, as part of changes to the CSREA and to better support students, Ethnic Studies joined a long established Brown department, American Studies. Many American Studies faculty members work in the areas of race and ethnicity and have held joint appointments in Ethnic and American Studies while American Studies PhD students have done some of the most exciting Ethnic Studies research on campus. Faculty and students in Ethnic Studies and American Studies are eager to see how the two programs move forward together.
As an academic field, Ethnic Studies is rooted in the protests of the 1960s and 1970s, out which emerged the very first Latino/a Studies, Asian American Studies, African American Studies, and Native American studies programs. Organized around straightforward political goals – the enrichment through diversification of the curriculum and the systematic, multi-disciplinary, and the often comparative study of racial and ethnic inequality – Ethnic Studies has become an important feature of major research universities.
Faculty, both core and affiliated, create and participate in groundbreaking Ethnic Studies scholarship. Areas of faculty research include borderlands history, Latina/o literary studies, and indigenous movements. Students can focus in Native American, Asian American, or Latino Studies and choose a thematic interest including such current examples as: "social issues affecting racialized groups" (students have looked at health disparities or educational inequality); "the study of cultural production or cultural representations;" "the history of a particular racial or ethnic group;" and "the study of comparative processes of racialization."