Ethnicity

Professor Perspectives: Cynthia McCown

As long ago as 1994, David W. Breneman, in “Liberal Arts Colleges: Thriving, Surviving or Endangered?” bemoaned the fact that despite the serious mandate for liberal arts colleges across the nation to include recognition of minority and marginalized cultures, and the “intrinsic intellectual reasons” to do so, few small liberal arts institutions have felt the need to establish relevant majors or minors.

Beloit College, so well known for its international programs, its women’s and gender studies department and its interdisciplinary minors, should be at the ACM vanguard in establishing an ethnic studies minor. For years the incipient African American Studies minor program has been languishing;  a newly conceived Ethnic Studies minor–combining African, Asian, Hispanic and Native American interests  is what is needed to fill a pronounced intellectual and cultural gap.

I believe  it would engage the  interests of many at Beloit, and that the problem of courses and staffing may be somewhat addressed by offerings currently on the books.  My own post-colonial drama course, for example, considers Native American and diasporic theatre pieces, and most recently has included plays by immigrants from Israel and the Arab nations.  I would gladly dismantle my own American Studies minor to make way for what I consider to be a far more relevant and necessary course of study for Beloit.

Cynthia McCown
Associate Professor of English & Theatre Arts

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