A Letter from the Director

"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.  Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. . . .  I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear."
              --Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Warriors are not what you think of as warriors.  The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another's life.  The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.  His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who cannot provide for themselves and above all, the children, the future of humanity."
                   --Sitting Bull

"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. . . .  Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own."
                   --Cesar Chavez

Welcome!  Founded in 1972, the Institute for Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary unit with three programs: African American and African Studies (AAAS), Latino and Latin American Studies (LLAS), and Native American Studies (NAS)

The Institute has a long history of educating students for an increasingly complex, transnational, multi-ethnic world.  We provide our students with the necessary theoretical and interdisciplinary tools to understand the histories, politics, identities, languages, cultures, and sexualities of African American, African, Latino, Latin American, and Native American peoples in the United States and across borders.  We critically examine what it means to live in a world where power, privilege, and inequality exist on various levels, and we explore how citizens become active (gain "agency") in creating change (social justice!) in an unequal world.  Our faculty members are actively involved in research and publication, and we invite our students to engage in our student-centered classes, creative research collaborations, and projects that promote understanding and social justice.

Students pursue a major, minor, or graduate specialization in Ethnic Studies because they love our courses.  They love learning about various regions, countries, and communities in Africa; they love understanding diverse African American communities and their histories; they love learning about various regions and cultures in Latin America and having the opportunity to travel there; they love learning about U.S. Latino histories, politics, and geographic regions; they love learning about the various historical and contemporary Native American communities in Nebraska and the United States, as well as indigenous communities abroad.

Our Ethnic Studies graduates have an excellent record of finding employment.  Why?  Employers seek individuals who can work with diverse groups and who understand and appreciate subtle as well as pronounced differences and similarities among people, and our program equips students with the necessary skills to work effectively in business, education, law, government, medicine, social work, nonprofits, writing, marketing, psychology, and national and transnational foundations. 

We offer two majors (Ethnic Studies and Latin American Studies), six minors, and graduate specializations in Ethnic Studies at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels.  Majors, minors, and specializers can focus in one area or design a broad-based course of study, according to their interests.  Our courses--many of which are ACE-certified--reach over 3,000 UNL students each year.

We also offer and co-sponsor lectures, symposia, research projects, and cultural events that are free and open to the public.  We serve as a resource for UNL students, faculty, and staff as well as the wider community on social and political issues related to race and ethnicity.

The Institute includes 21 joint-appointed faculty members from seven academic departments within the College of Arts and Sciences and 30 affiliated faculty members from departments across the university, including Fine and Performing Arts, Business Administration, and the College of Education and Human Services.

- Amelia Montes, Director

Amelia Montes

Amelia Montes, Director


The Faculty of the Institute for Ethnic Studies

Back row, left to right:  Mark Awakuni-Swetland (Native American Studies), James Garza (Latin American Studies), Shimelis Beyene (African Studies), Kwakiutl Dreher (African American Studies), Victoria Smith (Native American Studies), Joy Castro, Associate Director (Latino Studies), Tom Gannon (Native American Studies), Dawne Curry (African Studies), Sergio Wals (Latino and Latin American Studies), Tomni Dance (African American Studies), and graduate assistant Lupe Linares. 

Front row, left to right:  Waskar Ari (Latin American Studies), Jeannette Jones, Chief Advisor (African American Studies), Martha McCullough (Native American Studies), Alice Kang (African Studies), Amelia Montes, Director (Latino Studies), Patrick Jones (African American Studies).

Not pictured:  José González (Latin American Studies), Gregory Rutledge (African American and African Studies), and Cynthia Willis-Esqueda (Native American Studies).