Introduction to Ethnic Studies

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SSC 105

       Course Name: Introduction to Ethnic Studies

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces concepts and issues regarding race and ethnicity within and beyond the United States, and through a critical and interdisciplinary approach, studies their impact on society. Topics include identity and group affiliation; historical formation of racial categories and the emergence of theories of "whiteness"; issues of power and privilege; the connection between race, class, gender and sexuality; immigration and imperialism; and race and education.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will:

  1. Describe contemporary immigration trends and the formation of and retention of ethnic and racial identities in the United States.
  2. Analyze historical trends and factors associated with migration and immigration.
  3. Evaluate various theories within the social sciences which have sought to explain the formation of racial and ethnic categories, identities, racism, and ethnocentrism.
  4. Define problems and tensions within American society as a result of immigration throughout American history.
  5. Identify the various struggles and obstacles faced by racial and ethnic groups in American society.
  6. Discuss and compare various strategies that historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups have adopted to overcome their oppression.
  7. Explain the intersections of ethnicity, race, class, religion, and gender and how they contribute to status within American society.
  8. Conduct primary research on a chosen racial or ethnic group in which hypotheses will be constructed, researched, and interpreted.
  9. Demonstrate teamwork and collaboration through shared-inquiry and critical dialogue.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. History of Migration
    1. Western European Colonization of the Americas
    2. The African Slave Trade
    3. 19th Century immigration, identity formation and legal structures
    4. 20th Century immigration and reforms in immigration legislation
    5. 21st Century immigration patterns.
  2. Push and Pull factors for migration/immigration within a global context.
  3. The Formation of Race, Ethnocentrism, Prejudice and Discrimination
    1. Theoretical constructs including the works of Marx, Weber, Boas and more recent theorists such as Omi and Winant.
    2. Historical and soceo-economic context and rationales.
    3. White Privilege and benefits
    4. Historical and current impacts on marginalized groups
  4. Group solidarity and strategies adopted by racial and ethnic groups to promote common interests
    1. Traditional values in a new context
    2. Inter-generational relations
    3. Language, religion and the arts
    4. Adaption and new consciousness
    5. Economic and political strategies
    6. Psychological and social survival
  5. The intersectionality of race, ethnicity, class, religion and gender.

VII.  Methods of Instruction

This course involves lectures, discussions, small group work and projects, as well as supplemental materials such as films, music, etc.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

In addition to readings, exams, class discussions and group work, students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Current texts, monographs and articles examining issues of race and ethnicity.  What follows is a list of sample materials.

General Texts and Monographs:
Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal
Golash-Boza, Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach
Iyer, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multicultural Future
Omi and Winant, Racial Formation in the United States
Portes and Rumbaut, Immigrant America
Takaki, A Different Mirror

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Exams, quizzes, journaling, research papers, essays, individual and group projects  and participation and attendance may be evaluated.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.