In a time when ethnic studies in Arizona is facing fierce opposition, South Texas College in McAllen, Texas is offering the first Mexican-American Studies degree that may be earned entirely online. Victor Gomez is an associate professor of history at the college, as well as the coordinator for the Center for Mexican-American Studies (MAS) at the school and said the past year was spent organizing the degree program, an associate’s, so that every class could be completed online.
Note that McAllen is in a county that’s 91% Latino.
Gomez told NewsTaco that the idea to have an online degree was born in 2008 when prominent historian Rodolfo Acuña spoke at the college about teaching online, and how in some ways doing so is more dynamic and presents different types of challenges. Gomez decided to become trained in online teaching himself, and began lobbying his colleagues at the college to move towards online.
It’s important to note that the reason online courses are important is because they allow students who work, or non-traditional students, to schedule their educations around the necessity of making a living. Gomez said it was his students who kept asking him whether courses were available online, because in many ways, online education is even more open access for those who want to pursue education.
Currently there are 28 students enrolled in the MAS program and Gomez notes that people from all over the country — or the world — could take advantage of the college’s online program. Courses offered in the program include Chicano Literature, Chicano Politics, and a full listing here. Gomez was very enthusiastic about the program, not only for himself and his students, but as someone who thinks about history and progress.
“I think it speaks a lot to how much we have advanced, from the 1960s and 1970s, all these activists trying to get us fair representation in the classroom, to where now it’s all online,” he said.[Photo By karlaredor]