Subcommittee Members Favor Ethnic Studies

Members of the recently formed Faculty subcommittee on ethnic studies said this week they support increased course offerings in the field.

The seven-member subcommittee, formed last week under the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) by Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles, is scheduled to meet for the first time on Monday.

The group, chaired by Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Lawrence Buell, will work to formulate curriculum initiatives for the EPC to examine, as well as possible suggestions on the Faculty's minority hiring practices.

The subcommittee will meet in the wake of recent student agitation for greater faculty diversity and ethnic studies representation in the curriculum. The newly formed Coalition for Diversity has called for Asian-American and Latino studies classes as well as for additional minority representation among the Faculty.

Subcommittee members said they are eager to meet with students, but they have yet to make plans to meet as a whole with coalition representatives.


All subcommittee members reached this week said they generally support an increase in ethnic studies courses, but most said they would not give more specific initiatives before speaking with the rest of the subcommittee.

"I think it should be an important part of the curriculum," said Professor of Sociology Aage B. Sorenson, who also chairs the Faculty committee on visiting ethnic studies professorships.

Buell said a focus on ethnic studies should include both focused courses on specific ethnic groups and a broad multidisciplinary approach comparing ethnicities.

But he said the University is not "obliged to develop study of any and all ethnic groups to an equal degree."

Sorenson said he would like to see a certificate offered to students who complete a certain number of courses on ethnic issues.

Ford Professor of the social Sciences David Pilbeam said he "can see an intellectual and academic case" for an interdisciplinary program in American studies, which would include a focus on issues of ethnicity.

Professor of Afro-American Studies K. Anthony Appiah said the Faculty's approach to ethnic studies should incorporate a comparative focus.

"I do think it's important to think about differences between different ethnic groups when you're thinking about how to add them to the curriculum," he said. "We [Afro-American Studies] would fit in very happily with such a program."

Subcommittee members had mixed reactions to the coalition's call for a Core requirement in ethnic studies, but they said they were open to new input on the issue.

Sorenson said he has an "open mind" about the question, while Buell and Pilbeam are concerned about the large number of classes already required for undergraduates.

On the issue of Faculty minority recruitment efforts, Appiah praised the administration's present efforts including the recent appointment of two Black professors to University faculties.

While Sorenson said "the University should be kept under pressure on this issue," he said efforts come from the departmental level. Some department have been doing a lot and...some departments have not been doing a lot," he said.

Pilbeam said problems in the area of minority Faculty recruitment are largely due to a "Pool problems," or a dearth of minority candidates for professorships.

Subcommittee members Professor of English and American Literature Barbara E. Johnson and Professor of Government Jorge I. Dominguez could not be reached for comment. Cross professor of Slavic Languages John E. Malmstad declined to comment

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