Opinion: American ethnic studies, women’s studies, queer studies worth looking into

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As students travel their way through college and acquire friends, roommates and enemies, they also find their way into an academic program – or many. Once decided on, students are able to take core classes about the subject matter of their assigned major(s) and possible minor(s).

The different academic programs focus on critical thinking, theory, and in-depth curriculum and instruction based on what students are enrolled in. These classes are meant to prepare students with enough information to leave their undergraduate program prepared for life outside of college.

For those unfamiliar with the American ethnic studies, women’s studies and the newly approved queer studies programs, these three programs offer great insight and additional knowledge in just about any other academic program offered at K-State, while also being unique and demanding in their own rights.

In my opinion, students should major, double major or minor in at least one of these three programs. They parallel many other colleges and schools at K-State, offer a different perspective to what might be taught in other classes and, even though they are less publicized than other programs, they are not any less great.

The classes offer cross-references courses in leadership studies, family studies and human services, English and other foreign languages, history, journalism and mass communications, anthropology, sociology and many others. It is easy to obtain both degrees by taking these courses that “double dip.”

Another aspect about these degree programs is that they offer a different perspective to what might be traditionally taught. Often, when in a classroom, students might receive a possibly narrow or one-sided perspective of what the lesson. There are a lot of issues with that line of teaching.

If students are not learning about situations, events or history from other perspectives, professors are not adequately preparing their students for the reality of life outside of college, and that is an injustice to everyone involved. For instance, professors who deprive their students from first-person narratives from Native-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic populations, Asian-Americans and other underrepresented communities when learning about histories of these peoples are depriving students of the complete picture.

Students should take their education seriously and pursue all narratives about the communities and people they are learning about. The American ethnic studies, women’s studies and queer studies programs ensure this by offering the perspectives that make student learning more well-rounded.

Students should really consider declaring a major, a double major or minor in any of these programs. They are strong in diverse content of underrepresented communities, and allow students to feel passionate about issues of social justice, to learn their own histories from diverse backgrounds of people and students learn what they can do to leave a lasting impact on the K-State, Manhattan, national and global communities.

Located in Leasure Hall, these academic departments and programs are some of the newest programs but least known. Despite being hidden in a building many students may not frequent, they should know about these programs.

Pushing students to think beyond a textbook, the American ethnic studies, women’s studies and queer studies programs provide great knowledge and depth that students may not be provided in other classes. Students in these programs are able to learn about their own histories, which helps to validate their place in society and in this world. If one doesn’t learn about their own history, how are they supposed to move forward into the future without feeling alone?

These three programs are worth looking into for any student of any race, gender, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, at any level of academic knowledge. Any student could find something they’re passionate about within these curriculums, as long as they are willing to try and have an open mind.

Jakki Forester is a junior in journalism and American ethnic studies. Please send all comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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