The class requirement will be part of students' general education requirements and be implemented beginning in the 2023/2024 school year.
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The university system said this is the first change to GE requirements in four decades.
According to the CSU, the courses will "address historical, current and emerging ethnic studies and social justice issues."
"Campuses will determine the learning outcomes to meet this new requirement then they'll approve courses so it doesn't mean necessarily that you'll pick either ethnic studies or social justice you will pick courses that meet the outcomes," said Associate Vice Chancellor of Cal State Dr. Alison Wrynn.
San Francisco State University created the College of Ethnic Studies in 1969, the first such department in the nation.
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"This action, by the CSU and for the CSU, lifts ethnic studies to a place of prominence in our curriculum, connects it with the voices and perspectives of other historically oppressed groups, and advances the field by applying the lens of social justice," CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement Wednesday.
California legislators are close to passing a more narrow plan, that wouldn't include social justice classes. If that passes, it would overrule the CSU's plan.
"It will empower our students to meet this moment in our nation's history, giving them the knowledge, broad perspectives and skills needed to solve society's most pressing problems. And it will further strengthen the value of a CSU degree," White said.
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Those that we talked with on campus at Cal State East Bay said to them this is a no brainer.
Shabana Ali recently graduated from CSU East Bay and says she felt like this was already in place, "Like I said I was a public health major so I feel like it was kinda built into our curriculum of course but it could be built into our curriculum a lot more."
Dr. Wrynn says that some CSU schools already have requirements in place but this adds to that by mandating the courses at all 23 campuses where 482,000 students go to school.
Some believe this measure should be taken a step further and put into high schools.
"I'd even say in the general ed in the earlier two years they add that type of study in there as a required course," says parent and CSU alumni Leesa McGlory.
It's unclear at this point if that will happen but this is one of the most wide reaching college requirements of its kind according to Dr. Wrynn.
"We believe that this requirement elevates ethnic studies in a way that it has never been elevated before."
More than 481,000 students were enrolled in the CSU in the fall of 2019.
The change to graduation requirements in the university system comes as the U.S. grapples with civil unrest and police brutality, including the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement.
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