Students discussed issues surrounding a mandatory diversity requirement Thursday evening with members of the Academics/Education Work Group, a subgroup of the University Diversity Council. The forum was organized by ASG.
Mary Finn, associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and Dr. Lesley-Ann Brown, director of Campus Inclusion and Community, discussed the efforts to implement a curricular and co-curricular requirement to engage in issues of diversity and social inequality. The proposal was released Feb. 26.
“It has the potential to be something really transformative and to define who we are as a community,” Finn said.
According to the draft proposal, students in all schools will be required to complete a course within the new Social Inequalities and Diversities curriculum, as well as participate in co-curricular discussions with 10 to 12 other students. The requirement is slated to go into effect in Fall Quarter 2015.
“It will not cause students to need an incremental course,” Finn said. For Weinberg, the requirement will be woven into the school’s distribution requirements. They did not discuss plans for the other five undergraduate schools.
To fulfill the requirement, students must take a class approved by a universitywide committee. The proposal outlines several learning goals, including critical thinking, interdisciplinary scholarship and historical processes that inform identity.
Finn said that there was “an interesting debate” within the committee about the focus of the requirement. As the proposal is currently written, the “main focus” of these courses will be issues of inequality and diversity in the United States.
Discussions will be a crucial component of the new and modified courses. Large lecture classes will likely be split into discussion sections with TAs.
“There has to be some commitment to a kind of pedagogy that requires discussion among students,” Finn said.
Weinberg senior Hayley Stevens, ASG vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, said the UDC has been going to academic department meetings to meet with faculty. She said the Art History and Psychology departments were particularly supportive of the new requirements.
Other students from ASG and the UDC were in attendance. Students in attendance demonstrated support for the proposal.
“I don’t want a lot of people to come [to the forum],” Stevens said. “It would suggest that people are not on board.”