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Curriculum transformations reflect world’s diversity

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The following is taken from a paper, “Diversity and the College Curriculum:  Preparing Students for a Changing World,” by Debra Humphreys, Association of American Colleges and Universities, which granted permission for its use.*

America’s colleges and universities are educating a larger and more diverse group of students than ever before. As student bodies become more diverse, scholars are generating a plethora of new knowledge about the diversity of cultural traditions and histories in America and around the world. Some critics have misrepresented what these developments mean for today’s students. Their reports ignore the renaissance in curriculum, teaching, intercultural understanding, and civic dialogue. College courses today offer students a deeper and more complete picture of America’s culture and history. Professors are utilizing new texts and teaching techniques designed to prepare students for increasingly complex and diverse communities and workplaces.

Battles about what sorts of courses should be taught in college are not new. Critics calling for a return to a purportedly uncontested past curriculum of “timeless truths” present an inaccurate history. They charge that a core curriculum focused on “classic” texts and “western civilization” is threatened by current curricular innovations. As historian and author Lawrence Levine of George Mason University reminds us, however, “The canon and the curriculum . . . were constantly in the process of revision with irate defenders insisting, as they still do, that change would bring instant decline. The inclusion of “modern” writers from Shakespeare to Walt Whitman . . . came only after prolonged battles as intense and divisive as those that rage today.”1

More and more colleges and universities across the nation are transforming their curricula because college leaders increasingly recognize that knowledge about the diversity of American history and culture and knowledge about international diversity are essential for today’s students.

Note
1.  Lawrence Levine. The Opening of the American Mind: Canons, Culture, and History. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996): 15.

*Used by permission of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.  To order copies of Diversity Works: The Emerging Picture of How Students Benefit, contact AAC&U’s Publications desk, (202) 387-3760 ext. 437 or online at http://www.aacu-edu.org/Publications/publications.html.  For the full online version of “Diversity and the College Curriculum: How Colleges and Universities Are Preparing Students for a Changing World,” visit http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/Topic/Diversity/Response/Web/Leaderguide/CT/curriculum_briefing.htm.


OCTOBER 2000

Contents:

Curriculum transformations reflect world’s diversity

Intellectual Diversity: Reflections of a 1960s Black Studies Advocate
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Program director outlines keys to success for diversity and curriculum transformation
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Faculty Diversity Seminar originators trace its beginnings
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Links between music and identity explored
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Unique perspective reveals evolution of issues to African American history professor over past 30 years
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Revised courses reflect Non-European contributions to art
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Web site promotes undergraduate research
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New Faculty Orientation: Summer Institutional Development Institutes 2000
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Classroom tips from global perspectives
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TA Corner: Expanded TA Orientation: Just the Beginning
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Global diversity enriches religion classes
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Re-imagining the canon
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World literature provides window for understanding others
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Revised courses help students reach diversity goals
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