Marking the first major change to its curriculum in over four decades, California State University will now require students to take classes on ethnic studies or social justice in order to graduate.
ABC News reports, the school’s Board of Trustees approved the measure on Wednesday. With 23 campuses, Cal State is one of the largest four-year universities in the country. The school hopes that the new curriculum, set to be implemented during the 2023-2024 school year, will help in creating “a more just and equitable society.”
“This action, by the CSU and for the CSU, lifts Ethnic Studies to a place of prominence in our curriculum, connects it with the voices and perspectives of other historically oppressed groups. It will empower our students to meet this moment in our nation’s history, giving them the knowledge, broad perspectives and skills needed to solve society’s most pressing problems,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement.
According to school officials, the one-course requirement can be fulfilled through a variety of classes that address both historical and present-day issues in the fields of social justice and ethnic studies. The courses will have a focus on African American, Asian American, Latinx and Native American studies.
The move by the university comes as legislators in California consider a bill that would make ethnic studies a requirement but not courses on social justice. Should California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom sign the bill into law it would override the University’s measure. The university’s plan may cost the school $3 to $4 million while the state’s plan may cost up to $16 million to implement statewide.
California stands in contrast to other states in the nation that are working to prevent social justice from being taught in schools. In Arizona, Republicans have spent the last decade trying to completely remove ethnic studies classes from the curriculum.