and the College Curriculum
Higher Education in a Diverse Democracy
Higher education has a central role
to play in preparing students for the
complexity and diversity of their society.
But we need a much richer conception
than most campuses hold of the curriculum
basic to this preparation. In this richer
conception, education for democratic
pluralism is just as important as education
in cultural pluralism.
Education for United States democratic
and cultural pluralism is not the same
task, we emphasize, as the education
for global knowledge and interconnection
in which so many institutions are currently
engaged. Students require both global
knowledge and domestic knowledge. Colleges
and universities shortchange their students
when they view courses on world cultures
and United States diversity as interchangeable,
or leave attention to United States
diversity optional and elective. Education
for participation in United States cultural
and democratic pluralism is preparation
for citizenship and leadership. It deserves
its own time and space in the curriculum.
It is important that programs and departments
involve students in extensive opportunities
to practice deliberative discourse on
subjects about which they care intensely.
All graduates in all programs must learn
to listen to others' experiences and
challenges, explore multiple ways of
knowing and forming knowledge, and open
themselves to experiences of modifying
their own understandings based on what
they have learned from others' contributions.
Students' encounters with diversity
through major programs - acknowledging
complexity and multiplicity, exploring
the dimensions of difference, taking
multiplicity into full account in their
own constructions - further the deliberative
practice of United States pluralism.
Students learn to listen to one another
in order to understand more completely.
Equally important, through their immersion
in topics where no single perspective
can be adequate to the complexity of
the issue, students discover both the
limitations of any particular framework
and, by extension, their inescapable
dependence on difference as a source
of greater understanding.