College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Critical Ethnic Studies > Courses


The master’s in Critical Ethnic Studies has a total of 48 credit hours or 12 courses. This includes seven core courses: Introduction to Critical Ethnic Studies; Social Theory (INT 401); Borders, Migration, and Immigration (INT 404); Cities and Racial Formation; Mobility and the State; and Media and Cultural Studies (College of Communication) and INT 590 Research Methods or CMNS 581 (Qualitative Research); four open electives and a research project course.

Electives are any 400 level course and no more than two 300 level courses in various departments and programs including Latin American and Latino Studies, African and Black Diaspora Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Islamic World Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, American Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, International Studies, among other programs and departments.
Table of Course Sequencing
CES 401: Critical Ethnic Studies 
This core seminar will serve as an introduction to key issues and methods in the comparative study of ethnicity and race. The course highlights an interdisciplinary approach to the studies of systematic oppression in the United States, and the global implication of these structures. We will consider how Ethnic Studies presents a progressive intellectual challenge to global and local configurations of power in the name of global justice. Among our methods will be an intersectional theoretical analysis of the identities of race, gender, class, nation, sexuality, ability and religion. Readings will cover Kimberle Crenshaw’s and others theories of intersectionality, black feminist standpoint epistemology, postcolonial theory, mestiza feminism and other critical mixed race theories, queer critical theory, settler racism and state violence, as well as creative  and political movements of resistance and social change. Students will be expected to lead discussion on one of the week’s texts, write two close reading critical responses and prepare a 15-18 page final research essay.

CES 402: Mobility and the State
In this course we explore the history, culture, and politics of migration along with an examination of the expanding borders of the United States. We analyze the varied mythology of the border as a danger zone, an intermediary zone, and a place of contact and conflict. We also look to the theorizations of the border as a site of cultural exchanges, resistance and critical negotiation; interchanges that impact the construction of race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender from both sides of the border. We examine issues relating to U.S. policies of immigration and labor movements as well as the economic and political consequences of globalization along the border region. Finally, we examine how the U.S. border has shifted and changed over time, critically challenging issues of political, cultural, and legal belonging.

CES 403: Cities and Racial Formation
One of the required courses for the MA in Critical Ethnic Studies is in the area of Cities and Racial Formation.  The group of courses in this area would cover urban issues, whether related to Chicago or other city/cities, or issues of race and ethnicity.  These courses might cover topics on space, planning, and history of cities; or labor, work, and employment in urban contexts; or racial identity formation.  As the majority of people living in the world today inhabit cities, this category of courses considers the many factors that transform racial make-up of urban areas.  Courses might ask such questions as:  What is the effect of rapid economic change on different races and their jobs in cities?  What environmental features of cities affect race relations?  What processes involving resource and energy consumption concern racial groups in different ways?

CMNS 563: Multicultural Media Representations 
This core graduate seminar for critical ethnic studies will focus on an analysis of cultural production, cultural traditions and media representations of ethno racial groups in the United States. Racial and ethnic representation will be examined in an intersectional context that may also include class, gender, sexual, ability, religious, national or transnational and diasporic identities. In this course students will be introduced to the tenants of cultural forms and traditions as they examine how a particular group has engaged and transformed a cultural or media genre. Themes may include an emphasis on cultural hybridity, resistance to oppression, social uplift, ethnic nationalism, documenting marginalized communities, preservation of traditional cultural forms, and development of new cultural and media forms. 

INT 401: Critical Social Theory 
All systems of knowledge are constituted through and in turn help constitute relations of power. This course introduces students to social theory as a reflexive practice that is aware of the power-infused conditions of its own production. Students who take this course should be able to examine the society around them with critical awareness, interrogate the naturalization of social knowledge, and become aware of the conditions through which knowledge, expertise, and transformative social practices are reflexively produced.

INT 590/CMNS 581:  Research Methods 
This course provides an overview of research methods used across the humanities and social sciences in studying comparative ethnic topics.  Coverage includes discussion of participant-interviews, literature reviews, archival research, databases, narrative analyses, oral histories, surveys, and traditional experimental methods. The possibilities and limits of using each approach will be critiqued and placed in the context of broader theoretical perspectives. 

INT 404: Migration and Forced Migration
This course examines the integral role that different processes of mobility play in shaping today's world: emigration, immigration, displacement, refugee and internally displaced persons flows. Students study the causes and effects of population movements including push-pull factors, demographic, economic, and political variables. Students also look at the role of state and non-state actors and organizations.
Autumn Quarter
CES 401  Critical Ethnic Studies 
INT 401  Critical Social Theory

Winter & Spring Quarters
CES 402  Mobility and the State
CMN 563  Multicultural Media Representations
CES 403  Cities and Racial Formation
CES 404/ Borders, Migration and Immigration
INT 404 /CES 404  Migration and Forced Migration
Autumn Quarter
INT 590 Research Methods OR CMNS 581+ Elective One

Winter Quarter
Electives Two and Three

Spring Quarter
Elective Four plus final project

Each student will, in their second year, identify four courses in their area of concentration with the help of their advisor, and take them as preparation for their final project. 

The final project may consist of a thesis or project, which may include an internship with a community-based organization.