Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

November 17, 2015

Diversity Requirement

On May 24, 2013, a long-time student-led effort to pass a diversity course requirement for all UW undergraduates came to fruition. Students entering in fall 2014 and later must meet this graduation requirement, which includes three credits of coursework that focus on the sociocultural, political and economic diversity of human experience at local, regional or global scales.

The faculty legislation states, “The requirement is meant to help the student develop an understanding of the complexities of living in increasingly diverse and interconnected societies.” Courses that fulfill the diversity requirement focus on cross-cultural analysis and communication, and historical and contemporary inequities such as those associated with race, ethnicity, class, sex and gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, religion, age, veteran status and socioeconomic status. Course activities encourage critical thinking about topics such as power, inequality, marginality and social movements, and support effective cross-cultural communication skills.

The passage of the diversity requirement is the culmination of 25 years of work. UW students initiated three previous proposals that encountered resistance at various stages of the approval process. The proposal that ultimately passed originated in 2010 and was led by the UW Students for Diversity Coalition. The coalition’s membership featured students from several campus organizations, including the Black Student Union, First Nations, Filipino American Student Association and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlán. Their proposal was initially approved by the Associated Students of the UW in the fall of 2012. The proposal was also discussed and worked on by the Faculty Council on Multicultural Affairs, Faculty Council on Women in Academia, Faculty Council on Academic Standards, Senate Executive Committee and Faculty Senate. Read more about the diversity requirement at the UW.