A Sample of New Curricular Models for Diversity Learning
State University of New YorkBuffalo
"American Pluralism and the Search for Equality," a one-semester course typically required of all second-year students, follows the global and cross-cultural scope of a first-year course in world civilization. The goal for all sections of this course is to create an intense intellectual awareness of the enriching aspects of cultural pluralism and respect for difference as well as the negative consequences of prejudicial exclusion.
The course focuses on contemporary and historical issues of race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and religious sectarianism in American life. It examines the multicultural, multiethnic nature of American society from the viewpoints of both men and women and of people of diverse ethnicities, social classes, and religious creeds. Faculty members teaching this course attend a three-week summer faculty development workshop that focuses on both the course content and pedagogy.
Diversity is infused into a multi-course general education program called the Cultural Studies Program. This program stresses interdisciplinary as well as discipline-specific coursework and seeks to communicate the multidimensional nature of knowledge. Students begin with a yearlong seminar-colloquia. These team-taught courses have included "Women of Color in the United States"; "Democracies"; "Los Angeles"; "Technology and Culture"; "The Great Migrations: The History of Human Patterns of Migration, Emigration, and Immigration"; and "Culture and Image."
In the fall semester, the colloquium and seminar each earn four units of credit and typically constitute one-half of the student's course load. In the spring semester, colloquium and seminar earn two units each and together form the equivalent of one "full" course. The colloquium-seminar is supplemented by a requirement that students participate in the study of culture as embodied in the arts and sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences. Students take a minimum of three departmental courses which touch on at least three of the following geographical areas: Africa and the Middle East; Asia; Europe; Latin America; and the United States.
St. Edward's University
The Cultural Foundations courses at St. Edward's encompass eighteen of fifty-seven required general education credit hours spanning all four years. Their aim is to help students develop a balanced understanding and appreciation for their own and other cultures. Courses are all multidisciplinary.
"The American Experience" places individual and group experience within the social, economic, and political context of various eras, exploring group differences in experience and perspective as well as the ideals and values that define American civic culture.
"American Dilemmas" presents the principles and methods of economics, sociology, and political science to analyze current social problems. It continues the theme of social pluralism and consideration of social and political ideals as it explores the problems and issues our society faces in the present. These two courses are followed by "The Identity of the West" and "Contemporary World Issues."
Two six-hour course sequences, "Power and Society I and II" and "African American Heritage I and II," address issues of diversity within an overall interdisciplinary core curriculum of fifty-seven hours. These courses place the interaction between American social groups within the context of American government and society, examining the dynamics of social and political change in the democratic system.
Democracy is interpreted in its broadest sense, implying not just a set of governmental institutions and assumptions but a value system of respect for individual choice and action. Pluralism is viewed both as a crucial element in the formulation and fulfillment of the democratic ideal and as a potential factor inhibiting its smooth functioning.
Lewis and Clark College
Lewis and Clark's new two-semester core course, "Inventing America," in the first semester focuses on concepts of equality and freedom, justice and authority, and conflict and consensus in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In the second semester, students examine the evolution of the democratic experiment in light of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment. Readings include key court cases and diverse commentators on democracy or on the American experience, including Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Jefferson, Sojourner Truth, Ralph Ellison, and Ronald Takaki.