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CNM Launches New American Studies and Chicana/o Studies Degrees

Both will add to the strong set of program offerings in the Humanities
CNM Launches New American Studies and Chicana/o Studies Degrees
Image by Bijou Karman

Jan 21, 2021

Thanks to a grant from the Mellon Foundation, instructors from CNM, in collaboration with instructors from UNM, were able to launch two new Humanities associate degrees that will now be offered starting in the 2021 Fall Term.

The first degree is an Associate of Arts in American Studies and it looks at American history, culture, and politics through a critical lens. Students will be able to complete two years at CNM and then transfer to UNM’s American Studies Bachelor's program as a junior. Students at UNM can also go on to complete a Master’s and or Ph.D. in American Studies.

The second degree is in Chicana/o Studies and it looks at the history and culture of the Chicana/o community. Students will once again complete two years here at CNM and can then transfer into UNM’s Chicana/o Studies Bachelor’s program as a junior. Like American Studies, UNM now offers a Master’s and Ph.D. in Chicana/o Studies. 

“Both of these degrees will help students analyze and understand their lived experiences as Americans and global citizens, and that’s more important than ever right now,” says Dr. Felecia Caton-Garcia, one of the full-time CNM instructors who helped design both of the new degrees. “The kind of scholarship and critical thinking and reflection we’ll be using will allow students to have a broad conversation about the current moment and help them be active agents in shaping the future.”

New courses offered in the American Studies degree will cover everything from popular culture (music, food, art) to Southwest Studies. The Chicana/o Studies degree will offer an introductory course as well as an intro to Comparative Global and Ethnic Societies. Felecia says all students are encouraged to enroll in either program. Chicana/o students—who make up a large part of CNM’s student body— are also encouraged to take Chicana/o Studies classes as a way to better understand their history and connect with their community. 

Dr. Brandon Morgan, a full-time instructor and chair of the CNM History Department, also helped design the new degrees. He says CNM wanted to emphasize these degrees not only because they’re important for understanding and participating in the current moment, but also because studies have shown that Humanities degrees help students connect with good-paying jobs. 

“There’s been a big push in the STEM fields and the goal here was to reintroduce the Humanities as another viable option for students,” Brandon says. 

Both Brandon and Felecia will be teaching courses within the new degrees. They’ve also served on committees to hire grad students from the UNM American Studies and Chicana/o Studies programs who will serve as part-time instructors. 

Felecia says she’s excited to teach classes in both of the new degrees because she loves seeing students connect with the topics. Students at CNM already have experience with issues that will be covered—things like music and personal histories—so the curriculum is more than just something to memorize. 

“Both these fields are engaging and playful and I think a playful nature is absolutely fundamental to learning,” she says.

Learn more about the CNM Humanities Department here. To see more of Bijou's CNM art, please visit the CHSS Instagram.