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Race and ethnic studies minor comes to Otterbein

Race and ethnic studies minor comes to Otterbein

By Courtney Kilmer ‘17

A new minor was passed through senate this past spring, and many professors and students are buzzing about it. The minor is called Race and Ethnic Studies, and it will be an interdisciplinary program. This program will concentrate on historical and contemporary aspects of race and ethnicity. The program hopes to open doors to conversations about race and ethnicity issues both in the United States as well as across the world.

Associate Professor of English Phyllis Burns is the director of the new program, although she insists that it’s a collaborative effort that spans across six multiple departments, ranging from English and communication to religion and philosophy.

“We come from different cultural backgrounds and different experiences. We have this idea that this minor allows you to not be isolated in your studies,” said Burns.

Claudia Owusu, a sophomore creative writing major, was the first person to officially sign up for this minor. She thinks it’s a very important move for Otterbein to make, showing that the institution truly is an inclusive community and is striving to improve. She also believes that it’s crucial for students to try and take part in the program for the benefit of their own educational growth.

“I feel like you have to get out of your comfort zone, and you have to learn about other people and their beliefs. What the history of skin color is, especially in America, and also around the world. I feel like it’s kind of detrimental to your own learning experience if you close yourself away from it,” she said.

The goals that Otterbein holds for their students revolve around developing critical, problem solving skills, a sense of self and the ability to work well with others. This new minor appeals to each of these goals and also demonstrates Otterbein’s effort to continue being progressive.

“Otterbein holds itself as an institution that is progressive, inclusive and forward thinking” said Burns. “We know race and ethnic studies will help solidify that objective.”


Learn more about the race and ethnic studies minor online or contact Phyllis Burns at plburns@otterbein.edu.