a big glass building with students walking through a lawn in front
J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University. (Photo/Wikimedia-Webbi1987)

Newsom signs bill requiring ethnic studies in California State University system

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed AB 1460, ending a simmering controversy over the teaching of ethnic studies in the 23-campus California State University system.

The law makes an ethnic studies course a graduation requirement, and it supersedes an alternative proposal that would have expanded the definition of ethnic studies to include other social justice-oriented courses.

Under the law, the new required course will be restricted to the traditional ethnic studies curriculum in one of four communities of color: African American, Asian American, Latinx and Native American. Under an alternative plan approved last month by the CSU board of trustees and supported by Chancellor Timothy White, the requirement could have been satisfied either with a traditional course in the discipline or by taking a class focused on, for example, Jewish studies, LGBT history or social justice movements. That plan is now moot.

The new law makes California the first state in the nation to require an undergraduate course in ethnic studies. It goes into effect for entering freshmen in the 2021-2022 academic year at CSU, the nation’s largest public four-year university, which enrolls over 480,000 students statewide.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.