Chicano Studies, also listed as La Raza Studies or Mexican American Studies at various colleges and universities throughout the state and nation, came into existence at California State University, Sacramento in the late 1960s as a result of a coalition of minority faculty, staff, students, and community organizations. The Minority Coalition called for the establishment of an academic program which would examine the cultural, political, labor, historical, and aesthetic contributions of minorities in the United States.
Chicano Studies courses were developed through the cooperative efforts of Chicano faculty, staff, students, and community representatives. At a Chicano conference on higher education held at UC Santa Barbara in 1969, a tentative format for Chicano Studies Programs was established. In the same year, a more formal outline was published as El Plan de Santa Barbara in which specific academic areas of study were outlines. The "Plan" also outlined a student organization, M.E.C.H.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), as the catalyst which would bridge the gap between Chicano communities and the campuses of higher education.
At Sacramento State, Chicano Studies is well established as a component of the Ethnic Studies Department. Some of the functions as outlines in El Plan remain part of the program, such as faculty, staff, student organizations, and curriculum development.
Chicano Studies offers core courses through the Ethnic Studies Department. These courses examine the Chicano Experience and focus on the historical/cultural contributions of Chicanos in the U.S. Courses also analyze the impact of colonialism, class, racism, color, and culture conflicts in such areas as art, music, education, social science, literature, business, and human services fields.