Professor in class

The aim of our program is to enable students to understand that race and ethnicity are not stable categories:  they are ever-changing processes that are radically contingent on history, politics, geography, culture, and multiple other factors.


The “critical” in critical race and ethnic studies indicates the deliberate complexity at the heart of our approach: while our program is dedicated to the investigation of race and ethnicity as realities in the daily lives of people all over the globe, we view these categories as inherently flawed and insufficient. Ultimately, race and ethnicity are not categories that translate seamlessly from culture to culture, even within the U. S.: these terms take on radically different meanings that depend on one’s vantage point. Neither do they develop independently; race and ethnicity are inherently relational and intersectional. One factor that has been consistent in every incarnation of racial and ethnic identity, however, is power. In our program, students come to appreciate the centrality of power relations in the development of identity of marginalized peoples.

UVM seniors innovate debate and win a national championship

UVM students Taylor Brough and Khalil Lee

In the spring of 2015, UVM students Taylor Brough and Khalil Lee became national debate champions. And they did it by making debate not just a theoretical, academic exercise, but by holding the debate world accountable to the bias that has stacked the deck against a team like Brough and Lee—a Native American woman and an African-American man—since debate competitions began.