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Bachelor’s Degree Near For Chicano Program

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More than 40 years since the University of New Mexico began its Chicana and Chicano Studies program, students may finally be able to get a bachelor’s degree in it.

A regents committee on academic and student affairs approved the new major Wednesday, the second-to-last hurdle for the program. The full board of regents still must approve the degree.

The committee also approved two new Chicana and Chicano Studies certificate programs. One is a 15-hour online certificate in trans-national Latino studies that focuses on the U.S./Mexico border. The other is a program in New Mexican Cultural Landscapes that looks at the landscape and culture of the state.

Chicana and Chicano Studies focuses on cultural, political and social justice within Chicana/Chicano communities. The curriculum includes courses on gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, arts and culture, political mobilization, immigration, history and heritage.

Currently, students in the program can obtain only a minor, or 24 hours worth of curriculum. A bachelor’s degree would require 36.

Instituting the new major would not require additional resources such as new faculty, associate professor LM García y Griego said. Still, he said the program likely will grow in the next few years, and the department is already working on a hiring plan.

“We’ve had significant increase in enrollment just in a couple of years,” García y Griego said. About 500 students are enrolled.

The new degree so far has wide support.

“The Faculty Senate passed this resolution, and I am wholeheartedly behind it,” President Amy Neel said. The New Mexico Land Grant Council, a state agency, passed a resolution in support of the degree last spring, and the Provost’s Office also is on board.

“The proposal is well thought out and timely, and we are excited about the possibility of creating this degree program at UNM,” Associate Provost for Curriculum Greg Heileman wrote in a letter.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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