Human Diversity

""Courses in Human Diversity

It is the goal of the University that courses at CSULB foster respect for racial and ethnic diversity in the US. Thus, the sample of courses featured below introduce students to the life experiences of people with whom they are less familiar. This promotes the understanding of diversity and encourages tolerance and acceptance of others in our increasingly multicultural society. While CSULB recognizes the importance of other forms of diversity—gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability status, nationality, etc.—these featured courses focus specifically on the experiences and concerns of four historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups within the US: Native Americans, African Americans, Latinx people, and Asian Americans. These courses therefore provide a critical examination and understanding of the nature and social implications of race and racialized ethnicity as both social constructions and lived realities, especially as it relates to the four historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in the US named above.

Featured Courses – September 2019


Ital 345: Mobsters, Mammas, Mafias, and Migrations – Dr. Sienna Hopkins

Students who enroll in this course for the sole purpose of studying Italian American gangsters will be sorely disappointed.  They will, however, be pleasantly surprised by the interweaving of primary and secondary sources that give life to the Italian American Experience.  Interdisciplinary in nature, this course addresses issues of migration and its related themes of cultural conflict/crossings and ethnic identity formation, with specific reference to the Italian American experience. The syllabus embraces fictional, non-fictional, musical, and visual works (feature films, shorts, TV episodes, books, memoirs, etc) that recount the experience of migration as seen through the eyes of Italian Americans as well as Italian authors and by scholars active in various disciplines. Topics explored include: the voyage; labor exploitation; discriminatory policies and practices; political commitment; women’s roles; religion; crime as glamour and stigma; family’s protective, but also restrictive ties; food between expression and fixation, etc. Rather than simplistically representing Italian migrants as victims of a tragic fate or protagonists of successful rags-to-riches stories, this course intends to nurture a debate over the contradictions characterizing the migratory experience.

Religious Studies

R/ST 302: American Religious Diversity – Dr. Gabriel Estrada

Examines the diverse religious landscape of American society with a focus on the experiences of some of its major ethnic and racial communities, to include Native American, African American, Latino, and/or Asian American traditions.

R/ST 303: Queer Spirit – Dr. Gabriel Estrada

Queer written analysis of the integrated spiritual, psychological, social and physiological aspects of Abrahamic, Eastern, Indigenous, Neo-pagan, secular, and race/class/gender/nation/sexuality-defined spiritual and religious traditions.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

WGSS 101: Gender, Race, Sex and the Body – Dr. Lori Baralt

This introductory course offers students an initial overview of some of the key concepts underlying the interdisciplinary field of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, particularly related to gendered aspects of health and sexuality. The overall objective of this course is to provide students with an intellectual framework through which to consider fundamental questions about social constructions of race, gender and sexuality as well as gendered aspects of health and sexuality such as body image, sexual health, and sexual violence in the context of sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia. As part of the General Education Program in the Lifelong Learning and Self Integration (E) category, this course is designed to facilitate students’ understanding of gender, race, and sexuality in relation to health and well-being in ways that they can integrate into their lives.

WGSS 307: U.S. Women and the Economy: Money, Sex, Power – Dr. Kelly Sharron

In this course, we will be engaging with contemporary crises of capitalism, and in particular exploring the effects of capitalism on gender and race. Moreover, we will do this with a feminist lens, and explore the ways in which capitalism both constitutes gender, and is gendered, through labor, (re)production, and consumption. 

This course begins by attempting to answer the questions, what is capitalism, and how has it changed over time? Texts consider feudal capitalism, globalization, slavery, and the shift to present-day financial capital. After establishing key terms, we then consider how capitalism is not only an economic system and process, but also a social relationship with socio-cultural and political effects. Here, texts and discussions consider the identity-based components of capitalism, like gender, race, sex, and sexuality, and how those identities are shaped, formed, and produced through capitalism, and the structures of value inherent in capitalism. Finally, we will apply these large, overarching concepts to a particular site, the prison industrial complex, and evaluate the relationship between prisons and capitalism, the role of prisons in the larger social matrix of gender and race, and how the logics of crime and punishment continue and produce wealth and opportunity disparities in the U.S.

WGSS 318: Fierce Struggles: U.S. Women of Color History & Thought – Dr. Stacy Macías

In the U.S., “women of color” is an umbrella term that generally refers to Black/African American, Latina/x/Chicana/x, Asian-American & Pacific Islander, Native American/Indigenous, Arab/Muslim-American, and multi-racial women. This designation, however, has shifted throughout the last few decades to reference not only racialized gender identity, but moreover the overlapping contexts and matrices of power that shape women of color’s political, activist, intellectual, and creative work as well as their quotidian experiences. This is perhaps most pointedly now known as “women of color feminism.”  Taking these cues, our class will explore the historical emergence of women of color feminism(s) less as a shared identity and rather as a political project, activist intervention, mode of embodied subjectivity, scholarly formation, cultural critique, and creative endeavor. We will first situate broader historical-structural conditions that give rise to women of color identities and practices while also prioritizing women of color’s political, theoretical, and expressive responses to such oppressive forces. We will consider an array of objects including theoretical essay, poetry, manifesto, spoken word, film, memoir, visual art, personal testimony, and new media.

WGSS 320/CHLS 415: Latinas in the U.S. – Dr. Stacy Macías

This course explores the multiple histories, cultures, and knowledge formations that matter to a range of Latinx/as in the U.S. To tackle these multiplicities, we will situate the broader colonial, imperial, racial, sexual, gender, and historical-material conditions through which Latina/xs form a sense of shared identity, experiences, and practices. We will also consider divergent, fragmented, and submerged contexts to examine how the politics of race, ethnicity, class, color, immigration, education, language, religion/spirituality, sexuality, and gender operate to differentially situate Latina/xs in the US. To do so, we will prioritize the historical realities, quotidian experiences, structural challenges, epistemological practices, insurgent struggles, and creative processes of Latina/xs throughout the U.S.

WGSS 365: Pop Culture: Seeing Sex and Gender – Dr. Shira Tarrant

This course provides tools for analyzing images of women, gender, race, sexuality, and politics in popular culture. You will explore theories and data regarding pop culture patterns, user trends, and effects. Areas of focus will include movies, advertising, music, and online/social media.

WGSS 375: Reproductive Justice – Dr. Lori Baralt

This course explores how race, class, sexuality, nationality, ability and other forms of social inequality intersect with political and socio-economic forces in shaping people’s reproductive lives. The course explores the histories of reproductive oppression in the United States, while highlighting the ways in which women, specifically women of color, have contested these forces to control their own reproductive lives. The overall objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of reproductive oppression and politics in the U.S. The term reproductive justice was coined by a small group of black women activists in 1994 who combined the terms reproductive rights and social justice to conceptualize their reproductive oppression as more than simply the choice to have an abortion. Since then, the concept has been used predominately by women of color as well as LGBTQ folks organizing for bodily autonomy, the right to have children, the right to not have children, and the right to parent one’s children in safe and sustainable communities. This course counts as an elective for WGSS majors, minors, and Queer Studies Minors, but is open to all upper-division students.

WGSS 490: Feminist Thinking in Action, I: Feminist Activisms & Histories – Dr. Stacy Macías and Dr. Abraham Weil

Designed as a 2019-2020 academic year sequential course, Feminist Thinking in Action provides a one-time experiential learning opportunity in which students turn their feminist knowledge into locally based scholarly activism and social action, culminating in an undergraduate research conference. In the fall, we will discuss feminist activism with an emphasis on (re)conceptualizing meanings of ideas such as activism, movement-building, consciousness, power, theory, resistance, justice, politics, revolution, and praxis across time and space. Relying on assigned texts we will pose provocative questions about the nature of activism and organizing with which feminists of various types are aligned historically and contemporaneously. Among these considerations, we will begin building our vision for Spring’s gender, race, and sexuality-based research conference targeting CSU-wide undergraduate students. The course in the fall intends to explore the multiple sites of feminist activism that take shape in quotidian, experimental, popular, artistic, digital, scholarly, and established political modes. Our course vision is indebted to the CSU-Fresno students and faculty who last year (2018-19) initiated the first CSU-undergraduate research conference on gender, race, and sexuality.

A full list of Fall 2019 Human Diversity courses can be found at: