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Center for Curriculum Transformation

Mission & History

Between 1993 and 2013, UW Center for Curriculum Transformation promoted and supported curriculum development aimed at teaching about race, gender, ethnicity, nation and nationhood, class, disability, sexuality, religion and their intersections. The Center was created in 1993 through Ford Foundation funding and in-kind support from the Department of American Ethnic Studies and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education. The Center built upon significant expertise in curriculum transformation at the University that had developed as a result of previous Ford Foundation grants and the hiring of faculty members with expertise in the study of the various aspects of diversity.

Curriculum transformation asks faculty members to take a critical stance on power and difference in the classroom, interweave multiple perspectives, and integrate student voices and knowledge into the learning process. When Johnnella Butler and Fred Campbell—then Chair of American Ethnic Studies and Dean of Undergraduate Education, respectively—wrote the first project proposal for curriculum transformation in 1992, they recognized that student collaboration with faculty members would be essential to the process. The primary venue for this collaboration was an annual seminar during which faculty members and students examined new theory and pedagogy, participated in lively and often contentious discussions, and reworked courses to embed new knowledge and pedagogies.

Through 20 years of seminars, institutes, and projects, the Center worked with hundreds of faculty members who developed courses that reached thousands of students annually.  When the University faculty passed a diversity requirement in 2013, these courses, along with those in American Ethnic Studies, Disability Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and other disciplines, provided the necessary base for the requirement.

In 2001, the Center moved to the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, which was expanding its work with faculty on curriculum transformation, diversity research, and institutional change.
Betty Schmitz (Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity) was the Center director. Responsibilities for curriculum transformation have now moved to the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Chronology of Major Projects

Chronology of Major Projects

Angela Ginorio (Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies) and Johnnella Butler (former chair, American Ethnic Studies), project directors.  Funded by the Ford Foundation.  A precursor to the Curriculum Transformation Project, this project engaged American history and literature faculty members from colleges in the Northwest in the integration of new research on and by women of color into introductory courses.

Barbara Leigh Smith (The Evergreen State College) and Johnnella Butler, project directors; Betty Schmitz, project coordinator. Funded by the Ford Foundation. Housed at The Evergreen State College, this project provided support for 26 colleges and universities in the state of Washington to articulate the role of cultural pluralism in their students’ education and to develop new courses and curricula. The University of Washington (UW) Seattle sent a team each year to a summer cultural pluralism institute; UW Bothell and Tacoma also sent teams in 1994.

Johnnella Butler and Fred Campbell (former Dean of Undergraduate Education), principal investigators; Betty Schmitz, project director. Funded by the Ford Foundation.  A companion grant to the statewide Cultural Pluralism Project, this project inaugurated the UW curriculum transformation model, an annual seminar in which undergraduate students worked with faculty members on course development. The project created of the Curriculum Transformation Project, housed between 1993 and 1997 in the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Johnnella Butler and Betty Schmitz, project directors and seminar conveners. Richard Johnson (History), seminar convener. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This project provided funding for faculty members in American studies and American Ethnic Studies to develop a comparative, interdisciplinary approach to teaching American pluralism.

Johnnella Butler and Betty Schmitz, project directors. Funded by the Ford Foundation.  UW hosted the third national conference of project directors for the Campus Diversity Initiative. This work established strong links with scholars and diversity practitioners around the country. UW also became the Seattle pilot site for the Campus Diversity Initiative Public Information Project. This project established a network of public opinion leaders in the state and assisted local campuses in the dissemination of information about diversity.

Kimi Rabun, former director, SCEE, and institute coordinator. Funded by the Ford Foundation. Teams of faculty members from UW attended the summer curriculum transformation institutes sponsored by the Seattle Coalition for Educational Equity. These institutes focused on recruitment and retention of minority students and included an emphasis on curriculum transformation.

Betty Schmitz and Yvonne Terrell-Powell (Shoreline Community College), project directors. UW and Shoreline Community College sponsored summer curriculum transformation institute for faculty members from the state of Washington. These institutes focused on teaching contemporary and historical constructions of race, gender, class, nationality, ethnicity, disability and sexuality and their intersections.

Betty Schmitz, co-director, with Ana Mari Cauce (1999), Michelle Habell-Pallan (2000), and Christy Flores (2001). Funded by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Office of Undergraduate Education, and the Ford Foundation.  In 1999, the Center for Curriculum Transformation inaugurated a new, annual seminar for faculty members and undergraduate students to collaborate on course revision. Each year the format and focus of the seminar varied, responding to critical needs for curriculum development.

Betty Schmitz, director; Cristine Hinman Chopra, coordinator; Anu Taranath, faculty research associate. Funded by the Ford Foundation.  In addition to the annual curriculum transformation seminar, the grant from the Ford Foundation supported the development of a cohesive undergraduate liberal arts curriculum to teach students to think critically and comparatively about race, gender, class, ethnicity, nation and nationhood, disability, religion, and sexuality.

Priti Ramamurthy (Women Studies) and Betty Schmitz, co-directors.  Faculty members developed courses that incorporate substantive study of race, gender, ethnicity and other socially constructed categories of difference in comparative US-international perspective. New courses challenge traditional conceptions of the nation-state and local/global paradigms in light of large-scale flow of people, goods, images, and cultural influences across borders; and considered phenomena such as transnationalism, diaspora, and hybridity.

Sharan Brown (Educational Leadership & Policy Studies) and Dennis Lang (Disability Studies), co-directors.  Funded by the President’s Diversity Appraisal Implementation Fund. This seminar created an interdisciplinary space for faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students to deepen their understanding of disability and create new courses for the Disability Studies Program.

Betty Schmitz, coordinator.  This seminar invited faculty members to develop courses integrating themes of global health inequities, postcolonialism, structural inequalities, and social justice into freshmen level courses to support the first UW Common Book.  Participants were encouraged to apply for summer support through the Office of Undergraduate Education to subsidize their efforts.

Rick Bonus (American Ethnic Studies), Anu Taranath (English), and Betty Schmitz, co-directors. The Center for Curriculum Transformation, Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, and The Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs sponsored this seminar on the topic of preparing undergraduate students for global citizenship. Seminar participants created new courses and study abroad programs with substantive study of race, gender, ethnicity, and other socially constructed categories of difference and equipped students to address social justice issues.

Matt Saxton (Associate Dean) and Cynthia Del Rosario (Diversity Programs Advisor), coordinators. In order to prepare majors to work with diverse communities and address their information needs, the Information School began an annual curriculum transformation seminar to incorporate the study of diversity in courses.  The first seminar focused on how American Indian and Alaska Native cultural practices intersect with information issues and needs in collaboration with the Center for Curriculum Transformation.

The Center for Curriculum Transformation, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Simpson Center for the Humanities co-sponsored a seminar on diversity pedagogies to discuss current classroom practice and collaborate on developing transformational pedagogical and institutional strategies based on theoretical and critical practices in a variety of disciplines.  A key goal was to develop community of understanding and a leadership cohort that would continue to promote curricular and institutional change supportive of diversity.

Center for Curriculum Transformation Archives