The influx of new immigrants to and from areas such as Latin America, Western Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States and the corresponding change in the racial demography in these regions has led some scholars to foresee a future in which issues of racial and ethnic discrimination, prejudice, and inequality become a thing of the past as personified by the ascendance of President Barack Obama in the United States. Others foresee the balkanization of these regions and a future where widespread racial hostility will result in racial and cultural wars, not racial harmony and understanding. The discipline of political science, with its reliance on systematic and evidence based research can play a key role in adjudicating these two visions of the racial future. More specifically, political science is well positioned to illuminate contemporary trends in partisanship, political participation, public opinion and multiracial coalition formation which all act as indicators of racial harmony or of antipathy in the coming century. Yet, more importantly, political science is well poised to address a number of as yet unanswered questions regarding the racial demography of these areas. What role will political institutions play in the allocation of rights and the participation of new groups in civic life? What, if any policy prescriptions can be devised to reduce ethnic and racial disparities that threaten to lead to unrest? Will our contemporary frameworks concerning citizenship, race, ethnicity, and identity fit with the future demographic configuration of these areas? The answers to these questions necessitate methodological rigor, novel theoretical contributions, and innovative research designs all of which are provided for graduate students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The faculty in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst offers graduate students the unique opportunity to study these important questions, debates, and theoretical perspectives that emanate from the subfield of race, ethnicity, and immigration. The interests of the faculty at UMass include scholars who study the racial dynamics in Latin America, Western Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States.