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Chicana and Chicano Studies Department (1969-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Chicana and Chicano Studies Department (1969-)
Variant Name: Mexican American Studies Department


Historical Note:

Initially developed in 1968 by students and faculty inspired by the Civil Rights and Chicano movements, San Diego State College (SDSC) officially established the Mexican-American Studies Department, now known as the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department, in 1969, and offered both a major and a minor.  SDSC faculty and students followed El Plan de Santa Barbara as a blueprint for the codification of Chicana/o Studies at the university level, which had been created at the 1969 UC Santa Barbara Conference of Chicano students, professors, and activists.  The purpose of the newly-formed department was to teach an accurate and complete history of Chicanos and Mexican-Americans and their contributions to the United States.  In addition, the department hoped to recruit more Chicana/o students to the campus, and teach and develop skills that students could use to help their communities politically and economically.

Initially, students under the guidance of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) ran the department.  They actively participated in departmental meetings and decisions, taught classes, hired and fired faculty, and helped to develop the curriculum.  In 1975, however, with San Diego State College's change to university status, SDSU incorporated the Mexican-American Studies Department into the College of Professional Studies.  As a result of this institutionalization, the department's decision-making process became faculty and staff centered.  Later, in 1980, the department became part of the College of Arts and Letters.

Today, the department maintains a multi-disciplinary curriculum offering classes in film, history, anthropology, sociology, literature, and politics.  The curriculum also features classes in immigration and border studies, and encourages community outreach through internships, cultural exchanges, research, and advocacy.  Faculty and students participate in cultural documentation projects, such as the Chicano Park Historical Documentation Project, oral interviews, and original research.

Sources: Chicana and Chicano Studies Department.  http://aztlan.sdsu.edu.
Note Author: Amanda Lanthorne





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