Thinking about Engaging Difference and the Multicultural Requirement

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On 9/29 the English department’s own Emily Davis presented on UD’s revised multicultural requirement to a crowd of about twenty instructors, administrators, and graduate and undergraduate students. The presentation was a part of the Center for the Study of Diversity’s Brown Bag series and brought our attention to the work students can do engaging difference in the classroom.

Emily’s talk focused on the history of the requirement’s revision (who was involved, how it moved through university committees, the faculty senate, etc., and the work remaining). She indicated the complexity of this development and the importance of faculty specialists’ involvement moving forward. At first glance, this might not seem relevant to the work of E110, given that the course does not fulfill the multicultural requirement (although, if you do teach another course that does, be sure to submit your course for re-evaluation by Dec. 1). I argue, however, that the general university movement toward active and purposeful engagement of diversity – seen in the revised requirement as well as the inclusion of diversity study in First-Year Experience, not to mention being a general part of UD’s mission – signals that this is important work.

The new criteria for the requirement is published on the Faculty Senate’s webpage. The descriptions of the larger categories of “Diversity Self-Awareness and Perspective Taking,” “Cultural Difference,” “Personal and Social Responsibility,” and “Understanding Global Systems” indicate the stakes of the work at hand. They also indicate the complexity. Engaging diversity in the classroom is work done purposefully and often with training and guidance. The Center for Teaching and the Assessment of Learning often holds brown bags and events on “handling hot topics” and the Center for the Study of Diversity has developed a diversity competency rubric and also holds several events. All of these events are on the Writing Program Calendar. If teachers are interested in bringing this work to the reading, writing, and critical thinking work of E110, there are multiple important resources on-campus as we consider how this might fit into students’ study and the university’s larger goals.

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