Starting in summer 2019 ES is transitioning to a new name which will become effective Fall 2019. The faculty decided to change the department’s name for several reasons. First, we realized that not everyone in the administration understood what the field of ethnic studies is. Some thought that we studied cultural differences. For example, for years the UO Admissions page featured ballet folklorico dancers to represent ES. While we love folklorico, that hardly represents the kind of intellectual work we do. Thus, we wanted to foreground the key power dynamics we study, while still honoring the history of Ethnic Studies.
Second, changing our name to IRES reflects a larger evolution of the field. Many departments have been changing their names to not only better capture the work they are engaged in, but also to announce a new phase in the development of ethnic studies. Ethnic studies as a field emerged 50 years ago in 1968. At that time, as a new field struggling for legitimacy and creating itself, the focus was on the histories and experiences of various minoritized populations. But fifty years later, the emphasis is much more on theories of race, power, intersectionality, colonization, and indigeneity. Thus, IRES also reflects changes in the field.
Finally, we changed our name in order to allow expansion. Currently, IRES offers a Bachelors’ degree and minor in Ethnic Studies and administers the minor in Native American Studies (NAS). However, in the future IRES might house additional programs and we wanted a broader umbrella to provide intellectual coherency.
The name of the actual major, Ethnic Studies, will remain unchanged. Students will still get a major or minor in Ethnic Studies and the subject code will remain ES. It is just the department that is changing its name.