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Latino/a Studies minor launched, with African American Studies up next

Jayme Blaschke | January 24, 2019

The culmination of several years of discussion and planning, Texas State University launched a new minor in Latina/o Studies for the fall 2018 semester. An African American Studies (AAS) minor will follow suit in fall 2019.

The Latina/o Studies minor is housed in the Department of Sociology, with courses that run the gamut from anthropology to political science. The 18-unit minor, with six required courses and 12 electives, reaches into almost every college at Texas State.

Development of the minor began in 2015, when Provost Gene Bourgeois—after meeting with campus constituent groups including Hispanic Policy Network and student groups—charged a working group composed of representatives from Texas State’s nine colleges to explore whether the university should add a minor in Latino Studies to its inventory of academic programs and offer other appropriate recommendations. At the time, the working group found that 35 universities in the United States offered some sort of program in Latino Studies, or a combination of Mexican American and/or Chicano Studies. In Texas, six state-funded universities offer majors and/or minors in Mexican American Studies. 

In 2010, the university was officially recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. This means that at least 25 percent of students are Hispanic. Today, Texas State is 53 percent minority, with 37 percent identified as Hispanic.

"The main focus of this minor is on U.S. Latinos, and their experience in the United States," said Gloria P. Martinez-Ramos, professor of sociology and director of the minor. "Most of the courses are from Liberal Arts, but we have courses from other colleges."

The Provost likewise convened a working committee following discussions with the Coalition for Black Faculty and Staff and student groups to explore the feasibility of an AAS minor in 2018. The committee, composed of representatives from Texas State’s nine colleges, completed its feasibility report in February of 2018 and subsequently developed a proposal for the new minor. The position for AAS program coordinator has been approved and posted. The committee will begin reviewing applications Feb. 1, and interviews are expected to be completed by March, said Audwin Anderson, director of the Center for Diversity and Gender Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, and AAS committee chair.

"In terms of the program itself, the courses will go before the University Curriculum Committee on January 25. In March, the program proposal goes before the committee," Anderson said. "The reason the courses go for approval before the program is that the courses have to be in place for early registration.

"The work going into the proposal took a year and a half to complete," he said. "Everything's finally ready to roll." 

Students currently taking courses approved for the AAS minor may apply those courses toward the minor when it becomes available.

The interdisciplinary AAS minor will provide students a deeper understanding of the African diaspora, as well as the complex history, culture, and contributions of Africans and African Americans to our society. The minor will be centered on history and culture and will add breadth of educational opportunities offered to all students.

Texas State now has 75 official minors available to undergraduates. Once the AAS program launches in fall 2019, Texas State will offer a total of 76 official minors available to undergraduates. Both the Latina/o Studies and AAS minors are consistent with the University’s 2017-2023 Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

For more information about the Latino/a studies minor, visit www.soci.txstate.edu/Undergraduate-Degree/latinx-minor.html

For more information about the AAS minor, visit www.avpaa.txstate.edu/newacademicinitiatives/newminors/africanamericanstudiesminor.html.  

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922