The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Looking at race in class

While students are busy getting ready for midterms, teachers are exploring a new method of teaching that may enhance and strengthen diversity in the classroom.

CSUN’s new political science Assistant Professor, Boris Ricks, held a presentation Tuesday proposing a new way of teaching that incorporates what he called more inclusive and diverse pedagogical approaches like Critical Race Theory (CRT).

‘We need to start having more critical conversations about race,’ Ricks said. ‘We need to revisit this topic about race and address the issues of diversity in the classroom.’

Ricks defined CRT as a way of looking at race relations, particularly within the United States, in a broader context than the traditional civil rights approach.

The theory began in the mid-1970s, as a number of people in the legal profession were looking for new ways to speed up the slow rate at which laws were changing to promote racial equality.

CRT stemmed from an earlier legal movement called Critical Legal Studies or CLS said Ricks in his 12-page Power Point presentation.

CLS, according to Ricks, is a leftist legal movement that challenged the traditional legal scholarship that focused on doctrinal and policy analysis in favor of a form of law that spoke to the specificity of individuals and groups in social and cultural contexts.

These scholars also challenged the notion that the civil rights struggle represents a long, steady march toward social transformation, said Ricks.

‘This analysis was adequate,’ he said. ‘But it took too much time and was too slow to promote change.’

By adopting and adapting CRT as a framework to address issues of diversity and equity, college faculty will have to expose racism in higher education and propose solutions for addressing it.

‘Learning to look critically at race relations is a key part of this theory,’ Ricks said. ‘The objective of this proposal is to foster a broad and continuing dialogue among faculty, staff and students to find more effective ways to challenge oppressive systems and promote teaching and learning for racial equality.’

The two-hour presentation attracted a well-balanced audience, made up of professors not only in the education department, but also from the sociology and English department.

English professor, Robert Lopez said the presentation reinforced that the discussion needs to take place in order for some change to happen.

‘It was a good beginning into fleshing out what needs to be done about the issue of race in the classroom,’ Lopez said. ‘It showed how to practice structure of the discussion of race in the classroom.’

Lopez is one of a few CSUN professors that have already implemented CRT in thier classes. He has conducted mock trials that have allowed his students to express and reveal some of their deepest thoughts about racial issues. These trials revealed and brought about discussions that would have never been possible said Lopez.

Shiuli Mukhopadhyay, an assistant professor in the department of elementary education said that the theory needs to be discussed more often.

‘We need more discussions of this sort,’ Mukhopadhyay said. ‘It is so relevant for a campus like CSUN because it is such a diverse campus.’

Shartriya Collier, assistant professor in the education department said, the issue of race really needs to be in the forefront.

‘Race and ethnicity needs to be infused in the curriculum, it can’t be second,’ Collier said.

Collier said she hopes the presentation will encourage people to communicate and spread the word about CRT.

‘I wish for the continuance of this dialogue and conversing of race because it is such an important issue and should be addressed over and over again,’ said Collier.

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