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Women's and Gender Studies

Jesse Mills, PhD

Chair & Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies

Jesse Mills, PhD, has been an active and dedicated member of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty since Fall 2006 . Developing an African American Studies curriculum, serving as a resource for campus-wide diversity efforts, and mentoring advanced undergraduate research in ethnic studies, Mills enjoys being a part of the USD learning community. Mills draws his inspiration from his esteemed colleagues in the Ethnic Studies core and affiliated faculty, and the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole.

ETHN 497 Syllabus


Ph.D., University of California, San Diego; Ethnic Studies (2008)
M.A., University of California, San Diego; Ethnic Studies (2004)
M.A., University of California, Los Angeles; Afro-American Studies (1999)
B.A., Sonoma State University, Philosophy (1995)



Scholarly and Creative Work

As a scholar/artist/activist, Mills integrates academic research, community service, and artistry. His main research and fieldwork is with Somalis in San Diego examining nonprofit structures of refuge, cultural politics, and youth organizing, with new directions including comparative study in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He serves as strategist for United Taxi Workers of San Diego, research consultant for Somali Family Service, anti-racism consultant for The California Endowment, and faculty advisor for USD’s Black Student Union. His artistic accomplishments include serving as original composer, musical director, and performer (guitar/voice) in the acclaimed “Hip Hop Saved My Life”, a spoken word/music/dance performance collaboration. As a holistic body of work, Mills’ scholarly and creative work seeks to manifest interdisciplinary African American and Ethnic Studies with integral community engagement.

Teaching Interests

Mills teaches introductory and advanced courses in comparative ethnic studies and African American studies. His courses emphasize interdisciplinary inquiry in cultural studies, ethnography, and historiography centered on community service learning and participatory action research methodologies. His upper division seminars include African American Civil Rights, African American Music and Culture, African American Panethnicity, Ethnicity and Cinema, Race and Performance, Comparative Immigration, and “Triangle of Emancipation: The Black Freedom Struggle in Global Perspective” (co-taught with Tom Reifer, Sociology).