New Ethnic Studies Department Coming to CSUB


Canva Illustration by Marlene Garcia/ The Runner

Adeli Arvizu, Staff Writer

CSU Bakersfield’s Academic Senate sanctioned a proposal that permits the addition of an Ethnic Studies Department on Dec. 2, 2021.  

According to Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Dr. Jorge Moraga, the areas of focus that will be included in the department are Asian American Studies, Black Studies, Latinx/Chicanx Studies, and Native American Studies.  

The department does not have a permanent location now.  However, it is currently being held in the School of Social Sciences and Education. It is anticipated to start in the Fall of 2022.  

The Ethnic Studies Department Proposal for CSUB states that Assembly Bill 1460 was signed into law, making it a requirement for all students attending California State Universities to take at least one 3-unit ethnic studies course to graduate.  

This requirement contributed to furthering the approval of the making of the Ethnic Studies Department.  

“I am beyond thrilled that the many hours, conversations, and labor that went into drafting and revising the Ethnic Studies Department proposal was unanimously approved by the Academic Senate,” Dr. Moraga wrote in an email. 

He went on to say that the effort made to help create the department was through the contribution of various individuals who played pivotal roles in helping make the department a reality.  

Dr. Jorge Moraga speaking at the Latinx Heritage Month Kick-off at California State University Bakersfield.
Dr. Jorge Moraga speaking at the Latinx Heritage Month Kick-off at California State University Bakersfield. Wednesday, September 15, 2021. (Alexis Lynde)

Dr. Moraga will be teaching Latinx/Chicanx Studies, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Dr. Tracey Salisbury will teach Black Studies along with being the Women Studies representative in the department, and Dr. Jeremiah Sataraka will teach Asian American Studies.  

Tracy Salisbury
Tracy Salisbury will teach Black studies and Women’s studies at the new Ethnic Studies Department
Photo provided by Tracy Salisbury

“It is going to be a very powerful learning tool for our students, and our faculty, as well as the community because one of the things about Ethnic Studies is it requires a relationship with the local community and community activism, so I am excited about that,” said Dr. Salisbury.  

She further explained that internships, research opportunities, minors, majors, and expanding one’s understanding of other cultures in one or more of the offered studies are some of the many opportunities that will be available to students through the department.  

However, with the thrill of welcoming the department, there are also concerns about who will be teaching Native American Studies.  

“I just hope it is instructed by people with a background of the cultures that they are teaching for those study groups,” said CSUB Student and Chairwoman of the Chalon Indian Council of Bakersfield Arianne Chow, “That is my biggest concern, so for the Native American Studies, it should be a Native American instructor that has been brought up with the background, tradition, and the culture so that they can understand not only the book part of it but the spiritual aspect.” 

Chow expressed her enthusiasm for the department and felt it was much needed, yet the importance of having a Native American instructor is so that students receive accurate information and understanding of the culture. Furthermore, so that Native American students on campus can feel comfort, acceptance, and inclusion. She hopes students can and will embrace their backgrounds and identity through the addition of the Ethnic Studies Department.  

Currently, it is still not decided who will be teaching Native American Studies for the Ethnic Studies division. 

“Long term goals also include hiring more faculty, especially a specialist in Native American Studies, (…)and help steward a more equitable and inclusive future,” wrote Dr. Moraga regarding some of the many goals he hopes will be achieved with the department.