Overview of the Critical Race Studies Minor

In 2016, The Collective, a PLU student organization created by students of color and their allies, distributed a list of institutional priorities for curricular transformation, including the call for a path of undergraduate study dedicated to race. Over the next five years, faculty, staff and students affiliated with GSRS worked to respond to this demand. In 2020, GSRS introduced our Minor in Critical Race Studies.

The CRS Minor offers an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach to the study of racism, racialization and racial formation, both locally and globally. It draws on the GSRS program’s curricular strengths in teaching the social construction of identity, centering black feminist ways of knowing, analyzing systems of privilege and oppression through an intersectional lens, and imagining more just societies.  

Our curriculum is founded on the belief that systemic racism structures everyday life and that everyone, therefore, has a responsibility to work towards racial justice.

What is Critical Race Studies at PLU?

Housed within the Gender, Sexuality and Race Studies program, the CRS minor offers a uniquely intersectional curriculum. Core and elective courses approach race and ethnicity as systems which operate in conjunction with gender, sexuality, and class, among other identity formations. We believe individuals define themselves, and are defined by, various identities; the crossings of identity and affiliation are lived out in psychological, relational and embodied ways. Sexism, homophobia and transphobia operate in tandem with systems of white supremacy. In turn, feminist and queer critical approaches and pedagogies can be useful tools to disrupt white supremacy, even as we identify and counteract the privileging of whiteness within feminism and LGBTQ movements.


The critical study of racism and racial formation focuses on racialized systems of power and oppression and considers individual and collective practices of resistance and flourishing. The field of Critical Race Studies began with 1960s movements for social change, when student activists of color organized to demand new curricula in higher education that centered Black, Chicanx and Asian culture and history.  

CRS understands the historical formation of racial groups as not naturally determined, nor politically or morally neutral. Societies assign meaning to different racial categories; these meanings shift over time and across space, and are relational. In European nations, settler-colonies like the United States, and many postcolonial nation-states, races are understood in hierarchical relationship to each other, with whiteness maintained as the dominant racial group. Crucially, non-white racial and ethnic groups create vibrant cultures, communities and epistemologies which serve to resist systems of white supremacy.

Degree Requirements

20 Semester Hours, Including:

  • GSRS 201 (4 semester hours, offered every semester)
  • GSRS 301 (4 semester hours, offered every fall)
  • 12 additional semester hours
    • must be selected from GSRS courses or from list of GSRS-approved courses;
    • must include at least 8 hours of Critical Race Studies electives (CRSE)
    • must be selected from at least two departments or programs;
    • must be selected from at least two different divisions or schools;
    • at least two courses must be at the 300 or 400-level.

Courses that are not on the approved list, from any discipline, for which at least 60% of the assignments center on the critical study of race may also count for the Critical Race Studies minor. This allows the integration of Critical Race Studies perspectives into courses that are not explicitly or entirely structured around those perspectives. Students should consult the GSRS chair about this option before the course begins (when possible) and provide syllabi and assignments to the GSRS Executive Committee for approval upon completion of the course.