Two years ago, a group of students came to a Senate meeting and expressed concern that the intended learning outcomes of the Multicultural-Domestic (MCD) General Education requirement were not adequately addressing issues of power, inequality, and privilege. In October of 2014, the Student Senate approved a resolution to the college faculty recommending further review.
The faculty-led Curriculum Committee, which includes SGA’s elected Curriculum Senator, quickly developed a taskforce to examine the GE’s guidelines and consider various changes. After several months of revision with faculty, department chairs, and program directors, a finalized proposal was formed and placed before the faculty for vote this morning. This resolution passed and can be found below.
The changes to the MCD requirement will be rolled out over the next three years. This will have no effect on the current graduation requirements or the courses you are/were enrolled in. The future curriculum of these courses will adjust over the next few years to incorporate these new learning outcomes. We applaud and thank the many faculty, staff, and students for their with this process.
As always, if you have any ideas or concerns, we invite you to shoot us an email, swing by a Senate meeting (Tuesdays at 6:30 in the David E. Johnson Boardroom), or visit the Office of Student Activities (by the print center and post office).
A copy of SGA’s resolution and letter to the faculty from October 2014 can be found here.
Below is the relevant excerpt from the faculty resolution:
Proposed New ILOs and Course Guidelines
Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will demonstrate:
- deep, contextualized knowledge of how race and ethnicity manifest themselves in U.S. institutions and intersect with other forms of structured inequality such as gender, religion, sexual orientation, and social class.
- not only a familiarity with cultural differences and their contributions to a multicultural society, but also a clear understanding of how these differences have been shaped by power, privilege, and inequality.
- the ability to use concepts and tools of inquiry from at least one discipline to critically analyze race and ethnicity in the United States.
- the ability to reflect critically on how race, ethnicity, power, privilege, and inequality shape their own experiences and the experiences of others.
Course Guidelines with Curriculum Committee Comments:
- The course must focus explicitly on helping students develop a deep, contextualized knowledge of how forms of structured inequality such as gender, sexual orientation, class, and religion intersect with race and ethnicity in the United States.
- Comment: MCD courses will differ in terms of emphasis, structure, and approach, but all must address race and ethnicity in the United States and the intersection of race and ethnicity with other forms of structured inequality. For example, an MCD course on Asian American literature cannot address race and ethnicity in isolation, but must also devote attention to the intersection of race and ethnicity with other forms of structured inequality such as gender and sexual orientation. Conversely, an MCD course on the history of feminist thought might devote more time to gender than to race and ethnicity, but it must also give attention to the intersection of gender with race and ethnicity. Not all MCD courses will have a form of structured inequality as their central focus. For example, a course on the history of theater in the United States could merit the MCD attribute provided that it satisfies all four of the course guidelines. The bulk of the material used to justify the MCD attribute in the rationale should concern the United States; however, such courses need not confine themselves to the U.S. exclusively. The Curriculum Committee welcomes proposals to attach the MCD attribute to courses taught by members of any of the five of faculties of the college.
- The course must give special attention to power, privilege, and inequality.
- Comment: In order to merit the MCD attribute, a prospective MCD course cannot merely address cultural differences. As is specified in the above course guideline, such courses must give “special attention to power, privilege, and inequality.” Racial inequality in the twenty-first century United States is the result of a long history of investment and disinvestment in particular communities on the basis of race, overt acts of discrimination, and more subtle processes of discrimination that have a cumulative impact over time. An MCD course should equip students to discern the persistent and often unacknowledged impact of racism in the contemporary United States. “Privilege” refers to the advantages and benefits enjoyed by members of a dominant group, advantages and benefits that come at the expense of others. In some cases, members of a dominant group may view these privileges as earned. It is important to note that these privileges are not earned, but are granted to all members of the group regardless of whether individuals desire them or not. The status of being privileged and all that it involves may be invisible to members of the dominant group. Because the values, beliefs, and experiences of this group are generally accorded normative status, they may see themselves as simply persons rather than as members of a distinct group.
- The course’s critical analysis of race and ethnicity in the United States must engage students in the use of tools of inquiry considered appropriate within the disciplinary or interdisciplinary focus of the course.
- Comment: Both disciplinary and interdisciplinary methods and tools of inquiry are appropriate. In making proposals for the MCD course, faculty are encouraged to describe the most appropriate way, in their own discipline, to engage students in inquiry, observation, and analysis.
- The course must engage students in reflection on their place in a complex, racially and ethnically diverse United States, structured by power, privilege, and inequality.
- Comment: Regardless of its subject, temporal emphasis (historical, contemporary, or a combination of the two), and disciplinary or interdisciplinary location, a course with the MCD attribute must engage students in reflection on their own experiences of race and ethnicity within the United States and those of their contemporaries. As part of this effort, such a course must involve reflection upon the relationship between these experiences and power, privilege, and inequality.