Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Katherine Lewis, PhD

Second Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD


The effect of Ethnic Studies courses have shown to impact People of Color in a positive way academically, socially, and emotionally (Cabrera et al., 2014; Cammarota & Romero, 2009; Dee & Penner, 2017), however, for White students the effect is less clear. Often there are feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment for White students when confronted with the exposure to the individual and systemic oppression of People of Color by White colonialism and much of this oppression still resonates today (Sleeter & Zavala, 2020). Research also shows that there could be a link between Ethnic Studies coursework and anti-racist behavior (Brock-Petroshius, 2022). The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of Ethnic Studies on White students. The researcher used a qualitative research design using the analysis and interpretation of White student participant interviews. The questions for the interviews were formed based on the following central questions: (1) How will Ethnic Studies coursework affect White students' views on race, various forms of racism, implicit bias, and White privilege? (2) What are the psychological and emotional effects of Ethnic Studies on these students’ White identity? (3) What are the lasting effects of this coursework on White students for their future as potential social justice advocates and for the future of Ethnic Studies at the high school level? The findings show that Ethnic Studies coursework had an overall positive educational impact on student participant views on race and various forms of racism. Findings also showed that Ethnic Studies elicited feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and sadness in White students. However, the study also found that these strong, negative feelings led to an increase in White student antiracist behavior in the form of social justice action and the desire for further Ethnic iv Studies education. The significance of the findings indicates that Ethnic Studies can lead to anti-racist behavior in White students, even when generating negative feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and sadness.

IRB Number