Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023

Course Description

This course will serve as an introductory seminar to the sociological subfield of racial and ethnic relations. This course is also designated as a social science and power, privilege, and diversity (PPD) course and will count as both a Sociology and Africana Studies elective course. As opposed to providing a historical overview of each racial and ethnic group’s unique record of racialization via oppressive systems of slavery, colonialism, forced migration, assimilation, or detention, we will actively work to understand how power and exclusion have underscored these historical violences and shaped racial and ethnic groups’ current social location in society. This approach will allow us entry into exploring how and why oppressive systems of racial superiority remain operative today. Given the course’s emphasis on racial and ethnic relations, we will also spend the semester becoming familiar with the processes that contour how racialization shapes peoples’ individual and collective self-making – or rights to personhood. To investigate these topics meaningfully, we must begin the course with a strong definitional foundation of race, ethnicity, and several other critical and intersectional approaches used within the field. Doing so will allow us to better understand the work that race/racism does to pattern inequality across major sites for socialization in society, including schools, the healthcare industry, and the labor market. Much of the knowledge we will acquire this semester will come from the experiences and positionalities of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) as well as women. In prioritizing these voices, we not only gain a breadth and depth of knowledge that we otherwise would not have access to, but we also work to dismantle uneven relations of power in and beyond the academy where these voices remain marginalized. This course will require us to think meaningfully and reflexively about what we can do as scholars, practitioners, researchers, and agents for social change to help institute policy recommendations and educational, economic, political, and structural transformation that can bring about hope. To ground this justice work, we will also learn about frameworks of abolition, decarceration, anti-racism, and engaged/ongoing allyship.

Student Outcomes

  • Explore the mechanisms that drive racial inequality, including racial capitalism, structural racism, power and privilege, and Whiteness
  • Explore intersectional and critical approaches to studying race and ethnicity, especially what they offer that is different from traditional and canonical texts
  • Examine how place-based inequality takes form across several important major sites of socialization
  • Develop and utilize a sociological imagination to connect personal lived experiences to the course material to inform how we think about racial justice and do advocacy work