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About Our Department

Spring 1969, at the height of the Chicano Renaissance, a group of Chicano activists and intellectuals met on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara and prepared the foundational document El Plan de Santa Bárbara. Inspired by their own culture and communities, these men and women generated an educational model for institutions of higher learning which would be more responsive to Chicanos and would provide a bridge for a new generation of Chicanos to higher education. El Plan de Santa Bárbara recognized the central role of knowledge in power structures and in producing real social change. The Plan was the intellectual model for the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB and it continues to exert a profound influence on the discipline here.

UCSB is home to a Chicana and Chicano Studies department, Chicano Studies Institute, and a library collection devoted to the field. Over the past three decades, the department has developed an interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on gender, culture, and institutions. Courses probe the roots of a cultural tradition beginning with the pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico and extending into the many areas of contemporary American society, including politics, education, literature, the arts, and religion. Chicana and Chicano Studies majors gain insight into cultural issues and knowledge of the historical significance of Chicanos as a group. Students also develop the necessary analytical and methodological skills to better understand the emerging multicultural character of the Southwest and the key role Chicanos will increasingly play in the future, given the rapidly changing demographics of both the Southwest and the nation.

At the present time, the department has more majors and double majors than ever before and is expanding its curricular offerings. The major is especially recommended for those planning professional careers of special importance for the Chicano community such as law, the health sciences, social services, and education. The degree program also provides an exceptional opportunity for students to participate inthe planning and development of their course of study.

Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB is organized around various support units: the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, the Chicano Studies Institute, the Colección Tloque Nahuaque Unit and the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (both in the Davidson Library), the Luis Leal Endowed Chair, the Educational Opportunity Program, El Congreso, Chicanos for Higher Education, and various student groups.

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