The Ethnic Studies Circles for Active Learning and Research (ESCALAR) program brings together students, faculty, staff, and community to engage in meaningful and impactful scholarship through intellectually-compelling opportunities and active learning initiatives. Some of our activities include Ethnic Studies undergraduate and graduate research and creative work showcases, workshops focused on academic skills and critical themes in the field, hosting talks, presentations, and discussions by faculty across campus and beyond, and informal coffee hours and events to foster department community.


The ESCALAR program is an initiative that aims to build community through engaged scholarship and culturally-sustaining pedagogy that promotes active learning and research. We seek to bring together Ethnic Studies students, faculty, and staff by creating opportunities for interaction, providing a venue for peer and faculty engagement with student research projects, and developing community-based, experiential projects.


ESCALAR as a concept was conceived in response to student and faculty yearning for more community outside the classroom. Students sought spaces to gather informally as an intellectual and social community on campus. Faculty likewise hoped to connect their research and pedagogy to their students' and colleagues' work in the spirit of Ethnic Studies' tenets of interdisciplinarity and intersectionality. A faculty committee organized to propose a 1-course teaching reduction per year for the department, which would enable more time and bandwidth for faculty to develop and engage in innovative, "active" learning projects and workshops. Upon the success of that proposal, ESCALAR was born.

Our Work

  • ESCALAR and Ethnic Studies Courses

Faculty build ESCALAR into their classes and activities for the semester, and collaborate with students at the undergraduate and graduate level to develop research that makes a difference in our diverse communities. Undergraduate students in the core classes in Ethnic Studies participate in the ESCALAR program by presenting their scholarly and creative work to a larger Ethnic Studies audience, including faculty, graduate students, and fellow majors and minors. At the graduate level, graduate students involved in the ESCALAR program showcase their original research and take part in professionalization workshops.

  • ESCALAR and Community Engaged Scholarship

Ethnic Studies faculty at CU Boulder have an extensive record of community engaged scholarship that uniquely positions them to build community partnerships for active research-based learning. In tandem with our internship program, ESCALAR provides opportunities for students and faculty to develop and collaborate on community-based, experiential projects that center on critical issues relevant to local communities.

  • ESCALAR Events and Workshops

Throughout the year, the ESCALAR program organizes events and activities that more closely connect and benefit students, faculty, and staff. Through formal and informal opportunities, our community engages in knowledge-sharing, networking, research presentations, and professionalization workshops.

Our Learning Spaces

Our events and activities take place in our recently remodeled Ketchum 371, throughout campus, and in community spaces in Boulder county. Located two floors above our department's main office, Ketchum 371 is a centrally-located space on campus that features current classroom technology and ample room to gather, engage in conversation, collaborate, and build community.

ESCALAR Program Coordination

The Associate Chairs of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies work collaboratively with the department's Graduate Teaching Lead and department staff to design, plan, and implement ESCALAR activities.

News and Events

We are excited to share forthcoming ESCALAR workshops, presentations, and other activities on our website, listservs, and social media platforms as we work to develop this new program! Students and faculty: Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook so that you don't miss out on upcoming events and announcements! (see icons below)