"WE NEED A DEMOCRATIC ORDER, " CLAIM RICHARD GUARASCI AND
GRANT CORNWELL IN DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION IN AN AGE OF DIFFERENCE (1997),
"THAT CAN CONTAIN THE CONTRADICTION OF DIFFERENCE AND CONNECTION,
SELF AND COMMUNITY, ONE AND MANY, . . .A DEMOCRACY IN WHICH COMMONALITY
IS UNDERSTOOD AS NEGOTIATED AND CONSTRUCTED, NOT INHERITED OR NATURAL."
IN THE FACE OF THE DRAMATIC DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN THE UNITED STATES AND
ON OUR COLLEGE CAMPUSES, HOW MIGHT THE ACADEMY CULTIVATE SUCH A DEMOCRATIC
ORDER? THIS IS THE CHALLENGE THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN COLLEGES AND
THE WILLIAM AND FLORA HEWLETT FOUNDATION TOOK ON TOGETHER OVER THE LAST
Two Approaches to the Same Question
In 1993, The Association of American Colleges and Universities designed
a multi-project initiative, American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy,
and Liberal Learning. Funded largely by the Ford Foundation with added
support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, it sought both
to call attention to fundamental questions about education in a diverse
democracy and to provide resources for colleges and universities willing
to address those questions as dimensions of institutional mission, campus
community, and curricular focus. Shortly thereafter, the William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation developed its "Pluralism and Unity" initiative
to assist colleges and universities help students to respect differences
while also valuing inclusion. Both AAC&U and the Hewlett Foundation
believed that thoughtful exploration of differences actually leads to
a deeper unity across groups.
However, in 1999, AAC&U and the Hewlett Foundation decided to join
forces. Through a grant from Hewlett, AAC&U was able to offer a third
generation of American Commitments' Curriculum and Faculty Development
Network. The grant was introduced through a national call for proposals
and resulted in the selection of forty institutions. But unlike previous
AAC&U generations, this round encouraged schools to include a student
affairs professional as part of their six-person institutional team. More
than half of the participating institutions chose to do so.
Establishing a Space of Dialogue and Possibilities
Students on campuses today represent a spectrum of diversity by race,
sex, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, religious belief, ability, linguistic
groupings, and age. It is a diversity that is frequently segregated and
segmented outside the academy. Consequently, higher education must function
as what Maxine Greene (1988) refers to as "an authentic space: a
space of dialogue and possibilities." Clearly, higher education has
a critical role to play in helping students acquire knowledge and intercultural
competencies to participate as active citizens in such a continually reconstituting
kaleidoscope called the United States of America.
AAC&U's Hewlett grant sought to provide opportunities for colleges
and universities to reexamine the basic premises of American democratic
pluralism as they are simultaneously critiqued, enriched, and extended
by new and newly heard parts of our diverse society. Within this broad
framework, we encouraged the forty institutions to address the many levels
of community and democratic participation within U.S. society. We asked
them to address not only the national community and national covenants
but also the roles played by smaller cohesive communities within the larger
society that often provide sources of meaning and identity.
The Summer Institute
During the summer institute held in July 2000 at Brown University, faculty
and student affairs personnel became students again--in every sense of
the word. Participants lived in dormitories, shared common bathrooms,
ate indistinguishable food in the cafeteria, and had homework assignments.
They stayed up late talking to all hours in each others rooms, played
guitars in the courtyard until those who wanted sleep shouted them into
silence, and danced until their hair matted with sweat on the last night
of the institute.
The Boundaries and Borderlands Institute became its own borderland space.
The world of differences that participants carried to Brown rubbed edges
with one another. In the process, participants experienced first hand
and up close some of the difficulties and the exhilaration of living in
a pluralistic community while trying to practice the arts of democracy.
One Boundaries and Borderlands participant explained that he valued the
"sustained membership over time [which] provided the opportunity
to create a 'borderland,' connecting (if not transcending) individual
boundaries. Through dialogue and other conversations, we pushed ourselves
to think about the requirements of education as democratic practice."
Another valued "confronting viewpoints I do not share, expressed
by people I genuinely like, and can continue to like. Learning that it
is not either FIGHT or BE SILENT."
The institute included colloquia with distinguished scholars, cultural
events, a film series, and practical workshops. The latter spanned the
gamut. There were workshops on constructing curricular models, building
administrative leadership, building strong collaborations between student
and academic affairs and on assessing student learning in diversity courses.
Workshop topics also included intergroup dialogue, diverse pedagogies,
new research on the impact of campus diversity.
But the heart of the institute, and without question its most transformative
part, resided in the eight morning seminars. Each day a group of 15 people
met each other over a three-hour period to tackle a new thematic topic
each day. They gathered to read, think, debate, and write about some of
the broad conceptual questions from the parallel and too often unconnected
scholarship on U.S. diversity and democracy.
Each seminar approached a different theme from multiple points of view
and multiple disciplinary perspectives. The eight seminars were organized
around the following topics:
in a Diverse Democracy
U.S. Democratic Experiment: Forging a Nation for Whom?
Theories of Identity, Difference, and Democracy
and Racialization: The Color of Democracy
Democracy, and Citizenship
Citizenship: Immigration, Nationalism, and Cosmopolitanism
in a Liberal Democracy
Diversity, and Civic Engagement
So What Difference Did It All Make?
As campuses reported at the end of the grant, participation in the grant
helped institutions to:
create new diversity courses and/or revise courses by integrating
more diversity content;
or refine their diversity requirements;
the collaborations between student and academic affairs, and
new research on diversity and learning.
In the short institutional
abstracts on the following pages describing only a few of the forty institutions,
the Digest reader can get the briefest glimpse of the kind of changes
that occurred on the campuses. I encourage you to visit the institutional
web sites of the participating schools to get a fuller picture of the
range of overall diversity work on each of the B&B campuses.
Course development. Over thirty-five new courses were created
across twenty-three of the forty institutions. They included courses like
"Empowerment, Rights, and Boundaries," a sophomore seminar at
California State University-Fullerton, "Diaspora: Journey Toward
Destiny," a course at Evergreen State University about people of
Jewish and African descent, and "The Gendered Self: Gender and Diversity,"
a First year Learning Community course at Wagner College. "Ideals
and Institutions: Democracy in America" is a new seminar for first-year
students at Pomona College, while Macalaster is offering a new course,
"The Problem of Race in U.S. Social Thought and Policy" and
Hollins a new art course, "Cultural Diversity in the History of Photography."
Meanwhile, Keene State College has a new 200-level general education course
called "One World: Many Cultures."
New or Revised Diversity Requirements. Nine of the participating
institutions created an entirely new diversity framework, like the new
U.S. Cultures requirement at Miami University, or the Understanding Diversity
requirement at College of Saint Rose. A group from Pomona College who
had been at the B&B institute raised the possibility of adding a new
general education requirement, "Dynamics of Difference and Power."
Still another institution, Mount St. Mary's College, crafted a new diversity
designation with new guidelines and anticipated outcomes and are in the
process of assessing the diversity content of every department course
with a current multicultural designation.
Student and Academic Affairs Collaborations. It made a significant
difference to include student affairs personnel as part of the institutional
teams. The conversations were altered at the seminars and around the dorms
at night. Issues were injected that would not have been otherwise, and
many institutions returned to their campuses committed to implementing
new structures of cooperation and cross-fertilization.
There seems to be evidence of new partnerships between student and academic
affairs on campuses nurtured by the Boundaries and Borderlands mixed teams
and seminars. Santa Ana College stands out for the way it has integrated
the two sides of the house. Both their college freshman experience and
sophomore learning communities combine a counselor with a discipline-specific
faculty member in one classroom. That is true of their service learning
program whose organizational structure is coordinated by both a student
affairs professional and a faculty member. Santa Ana's cross-cultural
center is co-coordinated by faculty and student affairs staff.
While there was visible progress in this area, there is a long way to
go on most campuses. It will be some time before the mutual respect, recognition
of different professional skills, and habits of collaboration will offset
the more typical hierarchy and separation between the two worlds. Given
how much of students' lives are lived outside of the classroom, it is
impossible for faculty to deny the opportunity for enhanced learning that
could be gained through cooperation. Similarly, given the greater stability
of the faculty and their privileged position on campus and in students'
minds, it is equally impossible to ignore the stability and prestige that
faculty can bring to a student affairs or co-sponsored program.
Research from the Campuses. Edmonds Community College designed
an assessment survey for faculty and students at their institution to
address four goals specified in their Institutional Diversity Plan. Their
institutional findings, while offering some special insights, confirm
what has appeared in collective national findings. Edmonds wanted to know
more about diversity knowledge and exposure; diversity skills and behaviors;
the impact of courses with diversity content; and effective pedagogies.
Because Edmonds administered parallel student and faculty surveys, they
have some illuminating correlations between student learning and faculty
There are several lessons to be drawn from this third generation of American
Commitments institutions. Rather than localized institutional change,
many colleges are looking for pervasive, coordinated, and purposeful change.
Rather than a single diversity course, they are looking for developmental
levels offered in a variety of ways. Rather than carroling learning solely
into classrooms, more are experimenting with the enriched learning from
hands-on opportunities to be engaged with local, national, and global
communities. Instead of professional as well as departmental silos, the
more advanced schools are straining against the architecture and habits
of the academy to create the very borderland space of AAC&U's summer
institute. Spaces where differences rub edges and where one acquires the
courage and the comfort to move into contact areas, into that democratic
space of dialogue and possibilities.
Faculty at California State Fullerton successfully developed and implemented
a new sophomore seminar for the university's revised honors program. The
"Empowerment, Rights, and Boundaries" seminar focuses on the
social and institutional construction of race, ethnicity, gender, and
social class. The seminar fulfills the general education requirement for
U.S. history and American government, covering the 19th century in the
fall semester and the 20th century in the spring semester.
The seminar brings to light apparent ironies in U.S. history and ideals.
The principles of democracy, justice and fair play are contrasted with
the U.S. history of racial, ethnic, gender and class discrimination, violence
and injustice. As students role play and debate, they understand the realities
and complexities of the past, as well as those of today.
De Anza College
To institutionalize their diversity initiative, De Anza College in Cuppertino,
California, incorporated a Student Equity Plan into all areas of the college,
including specific goals in their College Education Master Plan to "improve
the student success rates for all ethnic, gender and disability groups."
The Student Equity Plan, approved by De Anza's Academic Senate and Classified
Senate is defined as "ongoing, accountable processes that will work
towards achieving equity in all measurements of student access and achievement
across lines of gender, ethnicity and disability." These processes
include curricular transformation and staff development among other activities
for the success of all De Anza students.
In addition to assessment of student equity across campus and conversations
with key stakeholders on issues of diversity, De Anza has discussed new
criteria for courses to qualify as general education courses. A requirement
that all courses be infused with multicultural perspectives is included
among those criteria.
Examples of courses infused with multicultural perspectives at De Anza
include revisions of physical education and math courses, courses that
do not normally contain reflection on diversity in gender, culture and
values. These courses include historical references and data relevant
to students from various backgrounds. More courses are developed each
quarter as the De Anza faculty participate in curriculum development seminars
designed to support faculty as they create new courses or redesign old
At Rowan University, a private institution in New Jersey, diversity and
democracy are infused in the Rowan Seminar for first year students. Faculty
and staff participated in a five-day summer workshop on course development
for the Rowan Seminar. The workshop assisted faculty and staff in developing
new, interdisciplinary courses that include diversity and democracy as
essential elements. Because all first year students are required to enroll
in a Rowan Seminar, the team-taught courses developed exposes them to
new ideas and encourages critical thinking, allowing the students to transition
successfully to university life.
The workshop provided faculty and staff with materials to help develop
and enhance pedagogy. Presentations were made on service learning and
volunteerism, learning styles, team-teaching strategies, and the basics
of critical thinking.
Oregon State University
Oregon State, a public research university, prides itself on having programs
and faculty in every county in Oregon. Oregon State created the Difference,
Power and Discrimination (DPD) Program to train and assist faculty and
staff in developing comparative diversity courses in response to student
concerns about discrimination and harassment on campus. Each first year
student must meet the DPD course requirement, and DPD training strives
to help faculty and staff to develop a curriculum that treats race, gender,
sexual orientation, and other issues as systemic forms of inequality.
This faculty development seminar is offered once per year to develop strategies
to incorporate diversity into the classroom, to instill a sensitivity
to difference, to provide resources and training about course development,
and to "introduce disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship
and perspectives on race, gender, class, sexual orientation and other
institutionalized systems of inequality in the United States."
During the course of the grant, OSUoffered two of its own faculty seminars
which trained an additional 25 faculty members. Faculty members from two
nearby community colleges also participated in the training. In addition
to faculty seminars, the DPD Program sponsored other informal events,
lectures, and brown bags to spur a dialogue about difference and diversity
among faculty members and students.
To meet the DPD requirements, courses must contain at least one active
learning component, be multi-disciplinary in nature, focus primarily on
the United States, and encourage critical thinking.
As the state's land grant institution, Washington State University positions
itself to serve the entire state of Washington as well as a diverse body
of students from throughout the United States and the globe.
Recently, Washington State implemented a new General Education requirement
titled "American Diversity." They have already added 47 courses
since the fall of 1999 to fulfill this requirement. Starting in the fall
of 2000, all students were required to take at least one American Diversity
course. The new diversity curriculum was designed to align with the university's
research mission, while addressing diversity, unity, and community issues.
At the heart of the American Diversity mission is allowing students to
engage in dialogue, encouraging research and inquiry-based pedagogies,
and developing learning communities.
Learning communities were encouraged by developing course clusters to
allow small groups of students to enroll in several linked courses together.
For example, the same cluster of students would take a diversity course,
a sociology course, and a specially designed section of English composition
with a common theme threaded throughout them. Research shows that when
students become more comfortable with their peers they engage in thoughtful,
challenging dialogue under less stressful conditions. The idea was to
make students comfortable enough with their peers to willingly step outside
of their comfort zone.
A collective team of faculty played leadership roles building the curriculum
and community connections through their intercollegiate Asian American
studies program. The Asian American studies program is the strongest of
any university in New England, and is recognized as a model within the
national Asian American studies (AAS) field because of their commitment
to pedagogy, community development, and the integration of theory and
practice, particularly to immigrant and refugee populations.
Each affiliated faculty has primary appointments in each of the University
of Massachusetts Boston's (UMass Boston) five colleges, which are arts
& sciences, education, management, nursing, and public & community
service. These joint appointments were crucial in the curricular transformation
of the AAS program. AAS faculty have dedicated time to contribute their
expertise to sustain curricular collaborations with health practices,
political science, business, and law. For example, UMass Boston's AAS
program offers courses such as "Asian American Politics and Social
Movements," "Asian American Cultures and Health Practices,"
and "Asian Americans and the Law." By drawing on shared commitments
of faculty, staff, and students throughout the university in an intercollegiate
structure, the AAS program provides rich, interdisciplinary approaches
in teaching and research with dynamic linkages to local communities and
supportive learning environment for students of all backgrounds.
Edmonds Community College, established in the late 1960s, is a suburban
institution in western Washington about 15 miles north of Seattle. The
faculty at Edmonds Community College (EdCC) formed a Teaching and Learning
Diversity Committee to enhance the existing Cultural Diversity (CD) Requirement.
Students must take a five-credit CD course in liberal arts or a designated
courses in the professional or technical areas that gives them competencies
in two of three domains--knowledge, awareness, and skills--related to
domestic or international diversity.
As a catalyst for curricular transformation, the Teaching and Learning
Diversity Committee was a key factor in the creation of the Diversity
Studies department. This new department was established to increase faculty
knowledge of diverse groups and faculty commitment to inclusion of diversity
in various aspects of the curriculum. In addition, courses will be offered
through the Diversity Studies department, so students have more opportunities
to gain knowledge to develop their awareness of themselves and others
and to increase their communication skills to interact responsibly with
members from diverse groups.
Miami University is a public undergraduate institution located in Oxford,
Ohio. The heart of Miami University's curricular transformation lies in
the faculty-driven Multicultural Council and their United States Cultures
requirement in which all students must take a 3-credit course that explores
diverse cultures of the United States. This council has established an
intellectual community whose chief commitment is to creating an inclusive
campus and ensuring the integrity and richness of courses designed for
the U.S. cultures requirement.
Miami University has also been nationally recognized for their innovative
program, Residential Theme Learning Communities. These learning communities
link student affairs with academic programs by having faculty members
visit the residence halls to discuss themes of diversity, leadership and
culture. Among the fourteen theme-learning communities is the Mosaic program,
which is designed to emphasize critical thinking about issues of primary
and secondary difference by allowing student participants to engage their
peers and faculty/staff instructors in reflective discourse about diversity.
The Mosaic community brings together the Center for American and World
Cultures, residence life, and academic programs. This systematic structure
for creating learning communities provides a space for engaging students
and faculty in meaningful ways to create an authentic collaboration for
constructing and understanding knowledge.
Keene State College
Located in New Hampshire, Keene State College (KSC) focused on creating
the diversity component of its general education program. Through the
KSC Commission on the Status of Diversity and Multiculturalism, a summer
diversity institute was developed to provide an opportunity for full-time
and adjunct faculty to develop new diversity related content and/or pedagogy
in their courses. As a result, KSC piloted an interdisciplinary, 200-level
general education diversity course in psychology/sociology: "One
World: Many Cultures." This course is intended to become the model
for faculty to use, who are interested in developing a 200-level general
In addition, the faculty-led team, who attended Boundaries and Borderlands,
drew on their experience from the project to draft a report with recommendations
for strengthening the diversity element of the university's general education
curriculum. This effort resulted in implementation of a diversity survey
for faculty. This survey was composed of questions that were designed
to identify diversity outcomes and methods for achieving them. Through
this survey, the B&B team mobilized the faculty from across the campus
to address ways they might incorporate diversity content in general education
courses. The B&B team continues to be the catalyst for curricular
transformation by providing the leadership for the Summer Diversity Institute,
which is being offered again in 2002.
PARTICIPATING IN THE HEWLETT FUNDED AMERICAN COMMITMENTS GRANT:
Indiana State University
Northern Arizona University
Oregon State University
University of Louisville
University of Massachusetts-Boston
University of Michigan
University of Vermont
Washington State University
Colleges and Universities
California State University-Fullerton
Christian Brothers University
College of St. Catherine
Fairfield University/Houstonic CC
Keene State College
Northwestern Illinois University
State University of New York-Geneseo
The College of Saint Rose
University of Southern Maine
Baccalaureate Colleges and Universities
Bryn Mawr College
Nebraska Wesleyan University
St. Lawrence University
St. Olaf College
The Evergreen State College
Community College of Denver
Edmonds Community College
Santa Ana College
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Questions Explored in Boundaries and Borderlands III
o What must we know and understand about the multiplicity of groups
and people that have been unequally acknowledged in our nation?
o What democratic concepts can we draw on from our own U.S. history
to guide us in forging new civic covenants among our citizens?
o How are we to understand the contradictory interconnections between
democratic aspirations and structural injustice?
o What kinds of intercultural competencies will graduates need to
negotiate their disparate and multiple commitments and communities,
inherited and adopted?
o What kinds of knowledge and capabilities are required for full
participation in a pluralistic democracy? What kinds of values?
o What are the crucial distinctions between acknowledging difference
and learning to take grounded stands in the face of difference?
If both are goals for liberal learning, how can we help students
develop both kinds of capabilities over time?
Student Equity Plan...
is defined as "ongoing, accountable processes that will work
towards achieving equity in all measurements of student access and
achievement across lines of gender, ethnicity and disability."
issue a call to colleges and universities to assert a new generation
of societal leadership that embraces the full range of challenges
confronting American pluralism today...Higher Education's goal, we
believe, should be to deepen public and campus knowledge of United
States diversity histories, to reengage with democratic aspirations
as a moral compass for intersecting communities, and to recommit ourselves
-- as educators and as citizens -- to the still-elusive goal of meaningful
equality for every American."
Drama of Diversity
and Democracy, 1995
American Commitments National Panel
|If your campus
is undergoing a curricular review or considering implementing a diversity
requirement, critics may use local media to generate negative coverage
of the proposed curriculum. If you have reason to believe that opponents
may talk to reporters or if you know that a local editor or reporter
has a negative view of diversity initiatives, it is better to reach
out to the media yourself than to hope that stories that might appear
will be balanced. Consider contacting the education editor or the
Editorial page editor to schedule a breakfast or lunch to talk about
proposed changes to the curriculum. Approach this as an opportunity
rather than an instance in which one needs to be defensive. News stories
on the curriculum frequently include more in-depth exploration of