Princeton Introduces a New Focus on 'Race and Identity'

Julio Cortez

Good news for Princeton students: You’ll no longer have to take Latin or Greek when majoring in classics.

If you don’t know what that is, here’s the New Jersey Ivy League research university’s website:

THE PRINCETON CLASSICS DEPARTMENT investigates the history, language, literature, and thought of ancient Greece and Rome. We use the perspectives of multiple disciplines to understand and imagine the diversity of these civilizations over almost two thousand years and to reflect on what the classical past has meant to later ages, and to our own.

The Princeton Alumni Weekly announces “approved curriculum changes in the departments of politics, religion, and classics.”

Gone are the language mandates.

In their place comes something, it would appear, more substantially relevant to history.

From Professor Frances Lee, associate chair of the politics department:

“The politics of race underlies so much of U.S. political history.”

Therefore, notes the outlet, “Politics added a track in race and identity.”

According to Frances, the idea for a new undergrad track in race and identity fits a broader campus initiative to address systemic racism.

The goal is to offer this track as a defined pathway for students who are interested in the topic, as well as to set them up for future academic work in this area, Lee said.

The way Frances sees it, if you want to understand American political history, there’s “a wide array of intellectual questions as well as subjects that you need to understand if you want to understand politics at its core.”

For those exploring the wide world of race and identity, there’ll be three main requirements:

  • Take the introductory “Race and Politics in the United States” course
  • Complete three of 14 courses centered on race and identity
  • Complete a senior thesis which incorporates the theme

Race and identity are certainly getting collegiate consideration as of late.

They’re turning back time with segregation:

Minnesota College Requires Monthly ‘Antiracism’ Staff Training — Separated by Race

New York Colleges Offer Accounting Program for Teens — so Long as They Aren’t White

University Plans to Hire Staff Based on Their ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Rating

NYU Student Group Petitions for Black-Only Housing So They ‘Can Feel Included’

Ivy League School Offers Rock Climbing Class for Everyone But White Students

As for other identities, they’re trying to help people pee:

Harvard University Launches App to Help BGLTQ Students Find Inclusive Restrooms

Secondary education appears to have the subjects sufficiently covered, but perhaps Princeton’s right: There’s a need for more.

From the Alumni Weekly:

The discussions about these changes predate [Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber’s] call to address systemic racism at the University, [classics professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Josh Billings] said, but were given new urgency by this and the events around race that occurred last summer.

“We think that having new perspectives in the field will make the field better,” Josh explained.

People coming in with no language history will benefit intellectualism:

“Having people who come in who might not have studied classics in high school and might not have had a previous exposure to Greek and Latin, we think that having those students in the department will make it a more vibrant intellectual community.”

Who can argue with intellectual vibrance?

More race and identity it is.

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

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