Putting race, economy and identity into sharp focus
Mount Holyoke has developed a new major in critical race and political economy to explore the intersections of power and identity that shape personal experience and the world.
The new program will be officially available to students starting in fall 2023, after having been approved by both the faculty and the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2022. Africana studies, critical social thought and CRPE will serve as primary curricular pathways for the new major. The department will also offer minors in Africana studies, Latina/o/x studies, and CRPE but will eliminate critical social thought as a minor.
“We hope that the department will be a new center of gravity in the interdisciplinary humanities, social sciences and sciences, fostering engaged scholarship that addresses the most urgent, historically rooted questions of our time.”
Students who began Mount Holyoke prior to the 2022–23 academic year will still be able to pursue their studies under their original designation.
The focus of CRPE will be to cultivate an understanding of how race, colonialism and other systems of power shape and have shaped human lives, identities and environments on local, national and global scales. To drive that learning, CRPE will introduce Collaboratories, critical inquiry laboratories that will foster in-depth, critical studies of race, colonialism, migration and political economy.
Iyko Day, Elizabeth C. Small Professor of English, will serve as the interim chair of CRPE. “We believe that the CRPE major and minor will distinguish Mount Holyoke in unprecedented ways,” she said. “Among the top 50 US liberal arts colleges, Mount Holyoke will be one of only two colleges offering a CRPE curriculum in an interdisciplinary department. We hope that the department will be a new center of gravity in the interdisciplinary humanities, social sciences and sciences, fostering engaged scholarship that addresses the most urgent, historically rooted questions of our time.”
Faculty have updated their existing courses and developed new curricula to meet the learning goals of the new program, including a new transformative justice lab, a new course on refugees and a course designed to examine disability, race and queerness in the global nineteenth century.
“The department represents a long-term collaboration and partnership between faculty in Africana Studies, Critical Social Thought and Latina/o Studies,” said Day. “We want to emphasize that the department is not a consolidation or forced merger. We see this primarily as an augmentation of our resources and an opportunity to build an exciting research program. A search is currently underway to hire an assistant professor of Africana Studies, who will be devoted to building the Africana Studies curriculum within the CRPE major.”