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Diversity Studies

Explore the formation of identity, society, power, and liberation inside of the United States and around the world through interdisciplinary seminars and studios.

Overview

Cultural diversity in creative practices

diversity studies faculty artwork

Faculty art in HOME: Making Space for Radical Love and Struggle exhibition.

In-depth explorations outside your major

Born from the Ethnic Studies movement, Diversity Studies has been an integral part of CCA’s curriculum since 1970. Committed to equity, intersectionality, and social impact, Diversity Studies courses inform your research and creative processes. All undergraduates are required to take one seminar and studio in areas outside their chosen program. Designed to be hands-on and highly interdisciplinary, they highlight the contributions of African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinx peoples to dominant American culture and subcultures. You’ll apply your knowledge of the interconnections between global communities, cultural formations, power, privilege, and imperialism to your understanding of contemporary art and design practices.

Analytical and critical perspectives

Painting critique in session at the San Francisco campus.

Gain analytical and critical perspectives

As you learn about racial and ethnic inequalities and resistance, you’ll use critical thinking and studio skills to develop languages, tools, and strategies that position marginalized and Indigenous voices at the center of discourse. Everything from gender and race to sexuality and socioeconomic inequality will inform your research projects and viewpoints. Our investigations into the processes and constructions of radical knowledge production empower you to interrogate the intersections of oppressive conditions, such as white supremacy, imperialisms, and colonialism, as well as intricate community and identity formations.

Are you eligible to waive Diversity Studies requirements

Photo: Glenn Carstens–Peters

Are you eligible to waive Diversity Studies requirements?

While Diversity Studies is a non-degree program, courses are threaded throughout your core and program curricula. The required seminar (3 units) and studio course (3 units) may be satisfied by transfer credits from another four-year accredited institution with programs in ethnic, diversity, or American studies. The chair of Diversity Studies must pre-approve all transfer credits.

Program goals

Decenter Eurocentric canons

We critique the theoretical frameworks of mainstream art and culture by decentering Eurocentric canons. As a result, we achieve an increased understanding, appreciation, and respect for the diverse range of the arts, cultures, histories, traditions, and modes of communication of global communities.

Analyze all contexts of cultural production

We explore, analyze, and study the social, political, and economic contexts of cultural production and artistic expressions, as well as realize an expanded consciousness of the true potential of the United States if diversity and equity were fully manifested.

Examine the experiences of underrepresented groups

Our students learn to perform a rigorous and disciplined examination of the past and present experiences of historically oppressed and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in the United States.

Expose institutionalized oppression

Diversity Studies seminars and studios identify, acknowledge, and critique the effects of institutionalized oppression and dominant groups privileged in relationship to the arts world.

Make an impact in the community

Our hands-on studio courses give students the chance to engage with local and global communities. They learn to accurately interpret their social and cultural experiences by creating alongside diverse voices.

Connect with artists and scholars focused on diversity

When students are exposed to artists and scholars who position diversity as a core value, they’re empowered to approach themes of ethnic identity, gender, race, and more in their own studio work and community practices.

Expand our approaches to teaching

Diversity Studies works to expand, diversify, and influence the content and pedagogical approaches to teaching throughout CCA’s curriculum.

Shylah Hamilton, Chair of Diversity Studies_feature_MB

Shylah Hamilton, Chair of Diversity Studies

Meet the chair

Chair Shylah Hamilton is an Afrosurrealist filmmaker and member of the Oakland-based artist collective The Black Woman Is God and the filmmaking collective Filmmakers Unite (FU). Her experimental films and installations explore dreams, exiled lives, melancholy, memory, ritual performances, and social justice. Selected exhibitions include The Hague, DOK Leipzig, CinePalium Fest, and SFMOMA.

Hamilton sits on the board of the Edwidge Danticat Society, which supports grassroots and scholarly creative, critical, and pedagogical projects that address Danticat’s works. She’s published widely in anthologies and journals such as Voices of the Ancestors Calling, Their Stories, and Plight for Divine Feminine (Demeter Press).

Courses

Recent investigations

CONJURE! African Sacred Art

This course examines how sacred art practices can serve as a bridge between physical and spiritual worlds. You’ll be introduced to the philosophies and aesthetics of the sacred art practices in the African Diaspora through lectures, readings, films, and more. Studio classes meet regularly with artists/healers to discover how respectful participation in ritual work can be used to deepen our own studio practices.

A Taste of Resistance

The intersections of food, form, and political action are at the heart of this studio course. You’ll learn to use food as a lens to decolonize constructions of class, gender, and race, drawing from readings by interdisciplinary scholars and your own hands-on projects. From material investigations and creative writing to urban farming and cooking, you’ll explore food’s potential as an artmaking material.

Primeval Intersections

Taught by a composer and performer, this is an intensive performance workshop. You’ll have the freedom to use your body as a medium for artistic, political, spiritual, and social expression. Time-based composition, experimental theater techniques, and psychological principles will inform your approach to collective performance practices and new venues of expression for your personal work.

Contact

Get in touch with questions

Start a conversation

Are you passionate about Bollywood cinema? Interested in using food as a political strategy? Each semester, the Diversity Studies program offers numerous seminars and studio courses that expose you to multiculturalism and cultural diversity. Get in touch to learn about what’s coming up and how you can enrich all aspects of your CCA experience.

Shylah Hamilton

Assistant Professor and Chair of Diversity Studies

[email protected]

First Year Core

Every undergraduate student participates in the First Year Core program, an opportunity to explore a wide range of materials and tools. Faculty from different disciplines guide projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions to help set you up for success in your major. You’ll learn to move easily between conceptual and studio work.

Critical Studies

Critical Studies introduces critical thinking skills essential to college-level work in the humanities and sciences. You’ll develop critical capacities through close readings and responses to cultural texts and phenomena. Coursework draws from multiple disciplines and reflects diverse perspectives on major themes or topics in contemporary life.

BFA in Community Arts

Focused on public art and social impact projects, the BFA in Community Arts teaches you to build bridges between underrepresented groups, nonprofits, and the wider community. You’ll apply your knowledge of critical theory, art history, and hands-on studio skills to real-world challenges.

Find your creative community at CCA

Apply now