Role and Mission of MSU Denver Department of Chicana/o Studies:
The Chicana/o Studies Department (CHS) adheres to the following core values as it works with students to achieve academic excellence: social justice, human rights, self- empowerment, cultural responsivness and service to community. The Department realizes students need the best academic tools available in order to compete in the market place and to better the world we live in and understand tools come from a variety of sources. Academicians, scholars and practitioners of social change acknowledge that methods and theories utilized to analyze social, political, historical, economic, religious, gendered and racialized conditions emanate best from an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. As a department, the philosophical underpinnings that inform our pedagogical practice include the work of renowned scholars such as Paolo Freire who assumes that the teacher is not all-knowing or neutral; the teacher shares his/her knowledge; however, within his philosophical framework, both teachers and students have a vested interest in a reciprocal process of learning. He states in Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, “To teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge…Whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning” (p.30-31).
The Department understands Chicana/o Studies as a relatively new discipline, founded in the early 1970s which has grown tremendously as it ventures into new and exciting areas of inquiry. This relative newness puts CHS in a unique position with wonderful opportunities to define and/or position curricular issues within the discipline in 2012, or what the 2010 NACCS National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies chair person, Dr. Devon Peña stated is the “Post-Neo Liberal Economy.” This means the Department must respond to current economic, social and political conditions in a meaningful way to prepare students for the new millennium.