Established in 2005, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) was derived from the Connecticut College Presidential Commission on a Pluralistic Community under President Norman Fainstein, which summarized the state of diversity at the College and provided a comprehensive set of recommendations for creating a more genuinely pluralistic campus community.
The Center's inaugural event, a two-day symposium in April, 2006, featured a keynote address by Cornel West, professor of religion at Princeton University and author of "Democracy Matters." West is one of America's leading intellectuals on topics of race and ethnicity.
In foregrounding the pivotal role that race and ethnicity has played in shaping cultures, societies, and historical eras, the CCSRE is building on the shifts in the academic study of race and ethnicity that is moving beyond the analysis of "identities" and toward the examination of power, structural inequality, and social justice in a comparative, relational, and multidisciplinary fashion. In particular, comparative race and ethnic studies examines the ways in which race and ethnicity have operated as effective instruments of political power, especially in contexts such as representation, citizenship, ethnic/national relations, religion and politics, and economic development.