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    American University
    Feb 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2023-2024 
American University Catalog 2023-2024

Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies


Chair  Eileen Findlay
African American and African Diaspora Studies Director  Sybil Roberts Williams
American Studies Director  Mary Ellen Curtin
Arab World Studies Director  Irene Calis
Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies Director  Hye Young Shin
Latina/o/x Studies Director  David Vázquez
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Director  Amy Barber

Full-Time Faculty

Professor  E. Findlay
Associate Professor  M.E. Curtin, K. Dorr, S. Kaplan, K. Leonard, T. Runstedtler, E. Stockreiter, D. Vázquez, K. Vester, L. Wong, O. Woodbine 
Assistant Professor  M. CollinsS. Persard, E. Rule
Senior Professorial Lecturer  T. Aho, A. Barber, I. Calis, M. Oliver, S. Roberts Williams
Professorial Lecturer  K.T. Christensen, C. Juhász-Wood, C. Riley, H.Y. Shin, Q. Vo

Department Overview

The Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies creates the experience of a small liberal arts college in the midst of a major research university. We are a vibrant and inclusive community of faculty and students committed to exploring diverse voices, histories, and experiences through socially engaged scholarship.

The Department houses six interdisciplinary programs that offer bachelor’s degrees, minors, and certificates:

Our courses examine race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, culture, and religion from a critical perspective. We encourage our students to research complex problems and explore interdisciplinary interests.

Department faculty members are distinguished interdisciplinary teachers and researchers from a wide range of humanities and social science fields. Our professors work closely with DC community leaders and institutions to bring real-world learning experiences into the classroom. Many of our students complement coursework with internship and employment opportunities in DC’s political, social, and cultural organizations. We also encourage our students to participate in AU Abroad  to gain an international perspective on their areas of interest.

Our flexible curriculum teaches students to become critical thinkers, innovative researchers, and skilled communicators. Our alumni enter the workforce with a social awareness that serves them well in the increasingly diversified workplaces of our globalized economy. In gaining a deeper understanding of their world and themselves, our students are prepared for a wide range of careers in communications, education, the arts, the non-profit sector, and government and public policy agencies. Our students are also well-prepared for graduate education, including doctoral and law programs.

African American and African Diaspora Studies provides students with an understanding of the historical and contemporary realities of African-descended peoples in the United States and across the diaspora. In the African American and African Diaspora Studies (BA)  and African American and African Diaspora Studies (Minor) , students explore black social movements and race politics, racial ideologies and critical race theory, and the distinctive artistic, literary and cultural practices of African peoples worldwide.

American Studies students explore the diverse cultures of the United States, both past and present, with an eye to our nation’s connections with the wider world. From the American Studies (BA)  to the American Studies (Minor) , they learn to analyze U.S. society through a variety of critical and interdisciplinary approaches. American Studies encourages students to participate in social justice-oriented community involvement and research in the Washington DC region.

Arab World Studies provides an intersectional examination of the Arab world in its diversity as well as commonalities. Both the Arab World Studies (BA)  and Arab World Studies (Minor)  are anchored in a decolonial curriculum that approaches the Arab World simultaneously as a discipline of study, a site of imperial geopolitics, and a home for diverse Arab communities. Students develop a critical comprehension of what it means to be Arab today through these inter‐connected components of study. Course offerings center the voices and concerns of Arab communities on topics relating to Orientalism, colonialism, histories, culture and politics, marginality, religion, Islamophobia, gender & sexualities, racial capitalism, global militarization & war‐making, art, resistance, activisms and other topical areas of interest.

Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Asia and the Pacific, as well as their diasporic communities, in a dynamic global context. Students in the Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies (BA)  and Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies (Minor)  explore the history and legacies of imperialism, colonialism, as well as gender/sexuality, class, and ethnicity/racial relations within and across local, national, and global frameworks.

Latina/o/x Studies is a branch of U.S. race and ethnic studies that explores questions of race, ethnicity, and racialization. Operating from a comparative framework that examines Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican/Chicana/o/x, Central American, and other Latin American diaspora populations, the minor explores common interests and differences affecting U.S. Latina/o/x populations. Latina/o/x Studies (Minor)  brings together the study of culture, literature and film, race and ethnicity, language, history, indigeneity, art, electoral politics, public health, gender and sexuality, policy, and environment as they relate to Latina/o/x peoples in the U.S.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies encompasses feminist, masculinity, queer, and sexuality studies. With its Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (BA) Sexuality and Queer Studies (Minor) , Women’s and Gender Studies (Minor) , and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (Graduate Certificate) , the program is committed to an intersectional approach that embraces diverse perspectives. Courses emphasize participatory education in which student involvement, critical thinking, and personal insight are encouraged in the learning process.


    Major Program (UG)Minor (UG)Certificate (UG)Certificate (GR)