Project UNITE: UNderstanding Identity through Education
In Fall of 2021, Minneapolis became one of the first public school districts in the country to require an ethnic studies course to graduate from high school. This policy change offers a rare natural experiment through which to evaluate the impact of ethnic studies curricula on individual students, the schools they attend, and the broader community.
Goals of Project UNITE
Project UNITE has two main goals:
(Goal 1) Understand the impact of taking an ethnic studies course on students’ identity development, academic achievement and well-being
(Goal 2) Explore whether students build bridges between the classroom and the community through civic engagement and having conversations with family or friends.
History of Ethnic Studies
Just over 50 years ago, the first ethnic studies department was created in response to a multiracial coalition of student protesters demanding reforms to higher education. This strike – the longest student strike in history – was recently covered by the Code Switch Podcast. In 1969 at the University of Minnesota, a group of Black students occupied Morris Hall, resulting in the creation of the African American studies department. Ethnic studies departments now exist in K-12 schools and colleges nationwide, thanks to the efforts of early student activists.