The California State University system’s governing board on Wednesday approved the inclusion of a course on ethnic studies and social justice as a general education requirement. The one-course requirement will go into effect in 2023, and can be fulfilled by a wide range of course offerings on historical, current and emerging ethnic studies and social justice issues, the system said in a news release. It was the first significant change to Cal State’s general education requirements in 40 years.

“Our goal is for CSU students, from every major and in every workplace, to be leaders in creating a more just and equitable society,” Timothy P. White, the system’s chancellor, said in statement. “This action, by the CSU and for the CSU, lifts Ethnic Studies to a place of prominence in our curriculum, connects it with the voices and perspectives of other historically oppressed groups and advances the field by applying the lens of social justice.”

The California Faculty Association criticized the move, saying the requirement was diluted and created without consultation with the CSU Council of Ethnic Studies.

“How the board can look at anyone with a straight face and say that an Ethnic Studies requirement can be fulfilled without ever having to take a course in Ethnic Studies is beyond believable,” said Charles Toombs, the association’s president. “Given how oppressive the CSU’s resolution is, no one will be surprised to hear that the CSU refused to consult with the CSU Council of Ethnic Studies, the faculty experts in Ethnic Studies or the CSU Academic Senate.”

Inside Higher Ed