Colleges and universities rethinking the curriculum changes of the 1980s that emphasized diversity
Williams College is in the process of changing such a requirement — with far more civility than characterized many of those ’80s discussions. In the process, faculty members have managed to be quite critical of the old requirement — while coming up with a new way to require study of a broad range of groups.
The old system at Williams was pretty basic. Students had to take a course about a minority group or a non-Western group. Anything that met that basic criterion could count, and got a “people and cultures” asterisk. “It was a good idea. It grew from nice liberal white guilt,” but it stopped being effective some time ago, according to Christopher Waters, a history professor who is overseeing the new system. The requirement was so vague that it didn’t have any real meaning, he said. Further, the idea that students needed to study a non-white group to represent difference doesn’t make sense when the college has attracted a much larger share of non-white Americans and of international students.
“This requirement was seen as a joke,” Waters said. “We were sticking things with the asteriskwithout a solid intellectual justification. I think a lot of our international students wondered what on earth this was about, and many of our non-white students viewed it as tokenism. Why would our minority students need to take such a course?” (A series of articles and editorials in The Williams Record, the student newspaper, reflect widespread student frustration with the requirement — regardless of students’ ethnicity or politics.)
So after a year of deliberation, the Williams faculty voted to do away with all the asterisk designations and to instead require that the diversity requirement be about more than some “other” group. ...
comments powered by Disqus
- Decades After Trinity Nuclear Test in New Mexico, U.S. Studies Cancer Fallout
- Lawrence Of Arabia's Hand-Drawn, WWI Map Is Up for Auction
- Thousands Of FBI Documents About Civil Rights Era Destroyed By Flooding
- Ancient Egyptian Woman with 70 Hair Extensions Discovered
- Europeans drawn from three ancient 'tribes'
- Conservatives press the case against the new AP framework for US history
- Who wrote the new AP US History framework? Now we know.
- Pro-Israel groups going after federal support of Middle East Studies
- 100th Anniversary of Beard's 'An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution' commemorated
- University of Illinois Bigwig to Native American Studies scholar Jean O’Brien: Drop Dead