Sophomore Seminars

Understanding Race and Ethnicity in American Society


In this seminar, we will explore the many meanings of race in American society, ranging from the way race affects personal identity to its influence on lifelong social and economic well-being. Through weekly readings and discussion, students will review theories and concepts used by social scientists to study contemporary racial and ethnic relations as well as cur­rent research in the field. You will also be asked to explore how race and ethnicity are expressed in everyday life. This assignment will require you to pay close attention to the ways in which racial themes are reflected in popular print and film media and covered in news reporting. You will be challenged to speak candidly about sensitive topics in ways intended to foster greater understanding and sensitivity toward person­al and social differences. The topics to be explored include a brief historical overview of race in America, race and violence, race and socioeconomic well-being, and the future of race relations in America. Students will be expected to complete a written assignment each week and actively participate in seminar discussions during the quarter.

Meet the Instructor(s)

C. Matthew Snipp

C. Matthew Snipp is professor of sociology and the former director of the Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and has been a research fellow at the Census Bureau and Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. His research focuses primarily on the racial and ethnic demography of American society, especially the demography of the American Indian population and people of multiracial heritage. Professor Snipp has served as an advisor to the Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, and the National Center for Health Statistics. He currently serves on a National Academy of Sciences panel evaluating the quality of the 2010 census and plans for the 2020 census.