American Multicultural Studies adds new degree emphasis

There has been recent speculation of the need to update the American Multicultural Studies Department.  Professor and Department Chair Elenita Strobel is an advocate of the need to revamp the department. Throughout the past year, there has been much discussion about how this update to the department would occur in the near future. Despite limited time and resources, final agreements and decisions have been made on the future of the AMCS department. 

 “A year ago we started looking at our program and decided that we are going to have to innovate without adding additional resources. So we thought about that and since we are a small department, the question was then how do we expand, revise, and update our program with the same amount of resources,” said Elenita Strobel, professor and chair of American multicultural studies department. “What we came up with was an expansion of the AMCS degree program, to create a concentration in Africana Studies because there is a student demand for Africana Studies. And then we originally wanted concentrations in the other eight areas we identified, but when we were trying to get it approved they said that it may not be feasible to do concentrations but for now we can do eight different pathways within the major.”

According to the American Multicultural Studies Department (AMCS) on the Sonoma State website, one can become anything from a lawyer to a social worker or even a business owner when majoring or minoring in American Multicultural Studies.

“The knowledge that students gain as an AMCS major or minor can be applied to a wide variety of fields and careers, and now with the concentration in Africana Studies and the variety of pathways (such as multicultural education and film studies), students can focus their studies toward a specific goal,” said Christina Baker, assistant professor in the Department of American Multicultural Studies.

The eight different pathways students can take are Hemispheric Studies, Literature and Art, Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Multicultural Education, Film Studies, Native American Studies, Jewish Studies, and Comparative Ethnic Studies.

“A pathway is similar to a concentration. You are going to take 16 units in one area of study across the university. Not just in the [American Cultural Studies] department,” said Strobel.

The American Multicultural Studies Department offers many classes that also count towards General Education requirements as well. This is known as a “fast track to graduation,” and can be referred on the Sonoma State website under the American Multicultural Studies Department.

“I took AMCS 225: Black and White in America and it really opened my eyes up to other cultural view points and helped me see the world the in another light. I believe this class and all other AMCS classes are important for students to take because of the knowledge they can take away that will help them with their future careers,” said junior Kayla Silva.

 The American Multicultural Studies Department really focuses on the cultures of African Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, Asian Americans, Multiracial Americans, and Native American Indians. This gives students the opportunity to better understand the histories of these cultures, therefore gaining more knowledge to help the students with their futures.

 “I’m really excited about providing students with the opportunity to specialize in an area of study, while also broadening their understanding of this increasingly multicultural society.  We now offer a concentration in Africana Studies, which is a much needed addition to the curriculum at the university.  Through the Africana Studies concentration, students will deepen their awareness of the cultural, historical, and political experiences of people of African descent,” said Baker.

The American Multicultural Studies Department at Sonoma State University is one of the oldest AMCS departments in the country, founded in 1971.