St. John’s Launches New Minor in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

Socially Distanced Students in Classroom
March 1, 2021

Seeking to explore the myriad ways social justice issues are shaped by class, ethnicity, gender, race and other forms of group differentiation, St. John’s has launched a new Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) minor for the Spring 2021 semester. 

“The push to create the minor in CRES grew out of student demand dating back to 2015,” said Natalie P. Byfield, Ph.D., CRES Director, and Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Students have long believed that transforming the curriculum to include Critical Race and Ethnic Studies will support the diversity, equity, and inclusion measures already underway at St. John’s.”

The 15-credit minor is a space for cutting-edge research and critical pedagogy, covering both contemporary and historical structural and social inequalities, international migration, health care, and more. Through the program, students examine the political struggles of marginalized people as a means for exploring innovative strategies for social change. 

“This is an interdisciplinary minor so we welcome students from a variety of majors across the University, including the humanities and social sciences, and the sciences,” said Dr. Byfield. “It is versatile enough to accommodate students from every year.” 

CRES faculty members are a diverse community of socially engaged scholars with expertise in the fields of critical race and ethnic studies across the humanities, social sciences, the arts, law, education, and the natural and health sciences.

According to Dr. Byfield, rollout of the minor began this year with a new course, Introduction to Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Curriculum was developed over the span of five years and also includes courses such as Methodologies in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies; Anti-Blackness around the Globe; and Comparative Racializations: Blackness, Indigeneity, Asianness, and Latinidad. 

“CRES addresses some of the most pressing issues today, such as racism, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, racial disparities in law enforcement, police violence, COVID-19, and other disparities in health care,” explained Dr. Byfield. 

CRES provides students with rigorous training in methods of critical inquiry that are relevant to the most pressing social, political, and cultural challenges we face in the 21st century and their historical antecedents. Above all, it advances the University’s Vincentian mission to be a model of diversity, inclusion, social justice, and equity.