Guidelines for Department Review

Prepared by Members of the Task Force on Diversity in the Curriculum
Sub-Committee on Departmental Initiatives
March 15, 2001

What is it that students in your discipline need to know in order to be successful in our diverse United States?

This document contains guidelines to assist academic departments in responding to this question, posed by the President, Provost, and Faculty Senate Chair in their March 2, 2001 letter. Preparing students for the nature and possibilities of living and working in a society characterized by great diversity, as well as for negotiating its inevitable conflicts requires exposure to a range of scholarly topics, values, social interactions and skills that span the disciplines. While some disciplines play a larger role in this preparation than others, all can contribute to providing necessary learning opportunities for students.

Below you will find some suggested points to assist you in beginning the discussion about what unique curricular or co-curricular contributions your department makes or could make in preparing students for society’s diversity.

1. All courses: learning objectives might include study of the impact of race, gender, ethnicity and other forms of difference on the content under study; development of knowledge and skills necessary for effective interpersonal and intergroup interactions; analysis of biases in what is studied; development of critical thinking skills in relation to diversity; strengthening of students’ self-understanding and understanding of others; promoting ethical behavior and values that support a diverse democracy.

2. Courses in the major: study of the nature of the discipline’s models and paradigms, where they come from, how and why they change over time; contributions of diverse individuals to research in the discipline; analysis of current debates in the field related to diversity; bias in research methods; professional ethics.

3. Lower division courses: identify the knowledge about race, gender, ethnicity and other forms of human knowledge that the discipline embeds in its introductory courses.

4. Research opportunities for students: Consider how research opportunities in the department help students develop learning objectives related to diversity.

5. Service learning activities for students: Consider how service learning opportunities in the department help students develop learning objectives related to diversity.

6. Leadership development activities: What opportunities to students have to develop and exercise leadership skills in the department?

7. Advising and mentoring: What do students learn from their interactions with faculty members who advise and mentor them?

8. Community-building activities: What do students learn from department activities aimed at building community?

9. Co-curricular speakers’ series, lecture, events: What opportunities do students have to engage in discussions with experts about the complexities of diversity in the workplace?

Ideas for Beginning the Review Process

  • Begin discussions of desired learning objectives of individual courses and sequences for the major and for service courses–what is the diversity learning profile for the graduate of this field/department?
  • Review existing courses and interview faculty members about how their courses prepare students for a diverse democracy
  • Interview students about their interests and expectations for diversity learning in the department
  • Survey alums of the department for their ideas regarding knowledge, skills and values they need in the workplace
  • Research courses and curricula at peer institutions
  • Interview career planning and placement counselors and members of the business community about diversity learning that are essential parts of professional training.

The Center for Curriculum Transformation can recommend UW faculty members to work with departments on identifying learning objectives in their disciplines. Contact Betty Schmitz, schmitz@u.washington.edu, 685-8276.

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