Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

2018-19 General Catalog

416 Humanities I
(831) 459-2757

Faculty | Course Descriptions

Program Description

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) majors develop a deep understanding of how race and other modalities of power have structured human life in the past and the present. Students acquire an understanding of the historical production of race and ethnicity in the United States and across the globe. They learn how the contours of race and racism have changed over time and, concomitantly, how individuals and groups have experienced these phenomena in constantly morphing ways. Students examine present-day racial/ethnic ideologies such as multiculturalism, colorblindness, and postracialism as well as contemporary social phenomena such as changing working conditions, new migration patterns, and emergent cultural expressions. Students also explore the ways that race and ethnicity have developed in concert with gender, sexuality, class, indigeneity, citizenship, and other modalities of power and lived identity.

CRES majors make critical use of methods and concepts from different academic disciplines as a means of better understanding historical and contemporary social phenomena and problems. In the process, they learn to recognize both the limits and the value of established knowledge production practices. The configuration of the major allows students flexibility at the upper division to design a course of study that enables a general understanding of a range of issues of intellectual and professional interest and/or a deeper understanding of a key area of focus.

Through their immersion in a program of study that is multidisciplinary, comparative, and transnational in scope, CRES majors develop a critical, situated perspective on the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of being a citizen of the United States or residing in its borders in the 21st century. CRES also helps students develop skills in critical thinking, comparative analysis, the application of social theory, research, communication, and writing so that they can act effectively in an ever-changing, complicated, and culturally diverse world.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the CRES major should emerge with the following skills, competencies, and knowledge:

Critical Frameworks

  • Demonstrate deep knowledge of historical, contemporary, and intersectional perspectives on race and ethnicity.

  • Demonstrate familiarity with different disciplinary methods applied to race and ethnicity.

  • Demonstrate a critical perspective on institutional power and knowledge.


  • Demonstrate ability to account for other people’s arguments, to formulate one’s own arguments, and to locate both arguments in the larger context of the field.

  • Demonstrate ability to formulate an argument in alternative media, such as speech, audiovisual, digital, and other forms of non-written communication.

  • Demonstrate writing effective in the interdisciplinary field.


  • Demonstrate ability to design and implement a collaborative research project.

  • Demonstrate ability to design and implement an independent research project.

Community Collaboration, Engagement, and Activism

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the issues, ethics, and methods surrounding activist, collaborative, and community-based research projects.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of collaborative knowledge that effectively integrates theoretical and experiential thinking about social justice.

Requirements for the Major

To apply for the major, students must have completed CRES 10, with a C or better, in order to declare the major. Junior transfer students and students in exceptional circumstances may substitute an equivalent course with the program director’s or undergraduate director’s approval. This allows transfer students to complete the major in two years. All students must submit a proposed Petition for Major/Minor Declaration to the program adviser that meets the major requirements in a coherent manner. Students are urged to submit their major declaration no later than the third quarter of their sophomore year or, in the case of transfer students, no later than the first quarter of their junior year. The major declaration should reflect a commitment to take CRES 100 and 101 at the next possible opportunity.

Course Requirements

To graduate with a major in CRES, a student is required to complete 10 courses with the approval of the program.

One lower-division foundation course: CRES 10, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies: An Introduction

Nine upper-division CRES-related courses, including the following:
  • Two upper-division foundation courses: CRES 100, Comparative Theories of Race and Ethnicity, and CRES 101, Research Methods and Writing in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

    • Students may petition to substitute a department-based, community-engagement course or social-movements course for CRES 101.
  • At least six upper-division electives offered by other departments from the list of CRES-approved courses.

    • At least two electives must be from the list of designated courses focusing on phenomena outside of the U.S. or on transnational or hemispheric subjects.
    • At least two academic departments must be represented in the elective coursework.
    • Students are encouraged to take more than the minimum number of elective courses. They may craft an elective distribution from several areas of specific research and career interests. Or, they may wish to take a number of elective courses in a particular area to develop expertise in it. For example, they may wish to focus on a social group (e.g., members of the African Diaspora), on a discipline (e.g., history), on a social phenomenon (e.g., social movements), or on a methodological or theoretical orientation e.g., theories of race, gender and sexuality.)
  • A capstone research seminar: CRES 190, Senior Seminar

Students are encouraged to supplement their upper-division coursework with language study, internships, and individual or group independent studies. Students may petition to have up to 10 credits of such activities substituted for upper-division elective requirements, so long as these activities serve, or do not interfere with, the breadth requirements.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in CRES is satisfied by completing CRES 190.


CRES awards honors and highest honors in the major. At the end of each quarter, a faculty committee meets to review graduating students’ files. Students are considered for honors and highest honors based on their cumulative GPA, calculated from grades earned in coursework and the senior exit requirement undertaken for completion of the major. For honors, students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.70 in the relevant courses, while for highest honors, the GPA must be 3.90 or higher. Writing a thesis is not a requirement for receiving honors or highest honors.

Sample Student Planners

Four-Year Sample Academic Plan For CRES Major (Frosh)

Students must have satisfied the English language and writing requirement (ELWR) and have completed the C1 requirement in order to enroll in course 10. Students who place into C2 in their first fall quarter may enroll in course 10 in their first fall quarter.





College Core (C1)

WRIT 2 (C2)



CRES 10 (ER)*

CRES 100

CRES 101



UD elective (1)


UD elective (2)

UD elective (3)

UD elective (5)


UD elective (4)



UD elective (6)

CRES 190 (DC)


Two-Year Sample Academic Plan for CRES Major (Transfer Students)

Transfer students should complete their general education (GE) requirements or IGETC before enrolling at UCSC, but this is not a requirement to complete the major within two years of transferring.  The CRES major consists of 10 courses, allowing transfer students to complete about two CRES courses per quarter along with additional units to complete the required 180 units for graduation.

Sample Transfer-Students Academic Planner for CRES Major – Fall Admission







CRES 100

CRES 101


CRES elective

CRES elective


CRES elective

CRES elective

CRES 190

CRES elective

CRES elective


Graduate Program

Designated Emphasis

Requirements for the Designated Emphasis

Graduate students from other departments may obtain a designated emphasis in CRES by completing the following requirements in addition to the requirements for the doctorate in their home department:

  • The student must have a designated graduate adviser from the CRES program principal or affiliated faculty.  The student must meet with this CRES adviser to develop a coherent plan for meeting the requirements for the designated emphasis, preferably before the end of the student’s first year. This plan must be approved by the CRES program director.

  • A member of the CRES principal or affiliate faculty (usually the CRES graduate adviser) must serve on the student's qualifying examination committee and on the student's dissertation committee.

  • The student must prepare a significant piece of scholarly writing in the area of CRES. This writing may take the form of a substantial seminar paper, a master's essay, or a portion of the doctoral dissertation. The student's CRES adviser will determine whether a particular piece of writing meets this requirement.

  • The student must take four relevant graduate seminars taught by CRES program faculty. One relevant graduate seminar taught by non-program faculty may be counted with the approval of the CRES adviser. The adviser may also approve the substitution of an individual or group independent study addressing a set of readings or focused on research and writing for one of the four required graduate courses. The specific courses used must reflect a coherent plan of study that embodies both breadth and focus.

Students pursuing the designated emphasis are encouraged to serve as a teaching assistant for at least one CRES core or elective course. CRES faculty are encouraged to appoint CRES designated emphasis students as teaching assistants when possible and appropriate.

Proposing and Obtaining the Designated Emphasis

Once a plan for meeting the requirements is agreed upon, the student should complete the application, obtain the CRES adviser’s and program director’s signatures, and submit the application to the CRES administrative office. The request for the designated emphasis must originate in the degree-granting department.

Once the requirements have been met, the student submits relevant documentation to the CRES administrative office for final approval by the CRES director. At a minimum, the student should submit copies of the qualifying examination and/or Dissertation Committee Nomination forms and a note from the adviser confirming that the writing sample and proposed courses have been completed. If the proposed courses have changed, an explanation of the changes should be included.

The CRES administrative office will notify the student and the home department of approval for the designated emphasis.

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Revised: 07/15/18