A Message From the Coordinator
Around the country, the founding of Ethnic Studies programs in the 1970s responded directly to the demands of students. At UWM, African American and Latin@ students staged protests to draw attention to the lack of faculty and students of color and the need for classes and services to support them.
In the democratic tradition of the Wisconsin Idea, UWM has responded to these demands over the past 40 years. The university now has a wide range of departments and programs, classes and services that address the histories and concerns of students of color, including the Hmong Diaspora Studies program founded in 2010. Because they address key issues of identity, these units play a vital role for all of our students at UWM, educating them about living in our complex and multiracial society. Many students combine a certificate in Comparative Ethnic or Hmong Diaspora studies with other majors; others choose to focus on these areas during their academic studies.
Many of these units, like Comparative Ethnic Studies and Hmong Diaspora Studies, tend to be small. With the current proposed budget cuts, we will be challenged to continue to provide the courses and services on which our students have come to rely. Some units will likely disappear altogether.
Testimonials: Voices of Our Students
“Ethnic Studies exemplifies the best of a college education-broadens the global exposure to the students, introduces them to new and challenging information, provides provocative reading and discussions, and opens opportunities for lifelong interests and possibly careers.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to reevaluate my Hmong and American identity and have become more comfortable with my Hmong background and my American background as well — it’s an insightful experience that you need to take critically with an open mind.”
“Learning about structural and institutionalized violence amongst different types of people and cultures has not only allowed me to broaden my horizons as a student, but to really understand how my studies in the STEM field play a greater role in society. The Comparative Ethnic Studies program at the UWM not only teaches students about social identity and power, but how applicable these concepts are in everyday life.”
“I am in the process of taking my second ethnic studies course at UWM. Although I already have a Master’s degree in a Social Science and am well-read, I feel that the course material has made a profound impression on me and even more so on the undergraduate students in the classes.
“The topics explored in ‘Global Violence, Disease and Death’ as well as ‘Migration and Gender’ have been global in nature, broadening our understanding of significant economic, political, health and social issues that are minimally covered by our media. I have heard students remark how eye-opening the course topics were for them; I, myself, have been at times overwhelmed by the content of some of the reading material as well as the videos shown in class.
“Ethnic Studies exemplifies the best of a college education-broadens the global exposure to the students, introduces them to new and challenging information, provides provocative reading and discussions, and opens opportunities for lifelong interests and possibly careers.
“The loss of this department would mean an educational gap that I am not sure could be filled elsewhere on campus.”