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Characteristics of Courses that Fulfill “Diversity in American Society”

Diversity in American  Society – The United States is a society of immigrants; and the diversity in ethnic, religious, and national influences that we enjoy as a result is one of our nation’s greatest strengths and sources of pride. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly easy in the U.S. to live in virtual isolation from this rich diversity of cultures, and even to be ignorant of the ways in which race, class, gender, and sexual orientation shape an individual’s view of American society. It is essential, at the beginning of the 21st century, that a university education address this most pressing of national issues. We recommend as part of the general education curriculum the successful completion of a course that focuses on the issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in American society

Course Guidelines

To qualify as fulfilling the campus-wide general education requirement in Diversity in U.S. Society, a course will include five general approaches to understanding diversity explained below.  Your responses should include specific references to assignments, lecture topics, activities and readings that address each approach.

1) Definitional: The course will impart an awareness of the ways multiple factors such as race/ethnicity, class, gender, religion, disability, and sexual orientation shape individual lives, how they are embedded in and have shaped our social institutions, and how they produce markedly different outcomes and opportunities for individuals and groups. 

2) Personal: The course will develop an awareness of students’ own potential biases regarding diversity, the origins of those biases, and their implications for social, economic, and political interactions.

3) Social: The course will lead students to an awareness of their own position within a privilege-oppression continuum, and enable them to explore the implications of that position for their lives and for their responsibilities as citizens of a multicultural democracy.

4) Historical: The course will develop an appreciation of the culturally constructed nature of distinctions based on several important diversity categories, such as race/ethnicity, class, disability, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, and of how they have varied historically. 

5) Global: Although the course may focus on a specific American minority culture, the course will impart an awareness of how U.S. culture has been, and continues to be, influenced by diverse Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Oceanic, and Central- and South- American cultures, both historical and contemporary.

Proposal form for Diversity in U.S. Society