Despite the controversy over DEI and ethnic studies programs in higher education, only 89 out of more than 2,600 universities in the U.S. offer a Latino studies major, according to a recent report by the Latinx Research Center at UC Berkeley.
These small numbers are similar to the numbers for universities offering other ethnic-studies programs as well. In addition, most of these programs are understaffed and lack the funding that would allow them to hire more tenure-track and full-time staff.
In all, 5 percent of U.S. universities provide a major in general ethnic studies, 3 percent provide a Native American studies major, 2 percent provide an Asian American studies major, and 9 percent feature a Black and/or African American studies major.
The report’s findings have the authors questioning the anti-ethnic studies narrative that some on the right are pushing.
“We are far from having an equitable higher education system that offers the classes and research opportunities on all communities, and at the same time, it’s quite ironic that these nascent and vulnerable programs are targeted because they are somehow taking over,” G. Cristina Mora, the study’s lead author, said.
Heavily-Latino states like Florida and Texas are both seeing efforts among conservative politicians to halt the teaching of ethnic studies and race in general. Given that the Latino population has grown to more than 60 million, Latino enrollment at universities has been increasing as well.
Latino studies programs were conceived during the civil rights era, with researchers stressing their importance in terms of politics, urbanism, and America in general.
“The way I see Latino studies, I see a real opportunity for diverse understandings of where we have come from to better understand where we are going,” Mora said. “Latino communities aren’t going anywhere. They are just becoming a much more important part of the country.”