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Diversify the Curriculum

This petition had 527 supporters


Dear President Jill Tiefenthaler, Dean Sandra Wong & Faculty of the College,

In recent years, Colorado College has made strides in becoming a more inclusive and diverse institution. There has been an increase in diverse course offerings; an increase in tenure track lines for the Feminist and Gender Studies major and the Race and Ethnic Studies minor; a restructuring of academic programs, such as the Bridge Scholar program; the establishment of the Butler Center; and, finally, a substantial increase in the percentage of students of color admitted to CC each year.[1] The aforementioned accomplishments are all evidence of the current administration’s and faculty’s commitment to having an inclusive campus. We want to propel these efforts forward, as we believe there is still much work that needs to be done to transform CC into a truly diverse educational environment.

            We, the students of Colorado College, believe that every student who graduates from CC should have a basic grasp of issues concerning responsible citizenship in a globalized world. In an often hostile racist, sexist, classist, and homophobic national and global environment, we want the skills to peacefully confront the hurdles that we are facing today, which we will undoubtedly grapple with throughout our lives.  That means our curriculum should facilitate a critical historical engagement with the pertinent issues affecting ourselves and our local, national, and international communities. This petition is a formal statement of our dedication to engaging with subjects of (but not limited to) class, race, gender, and sexuality everyday—subjects we want to see reflected in our classrooms and in syllabi across campus. We want to embrace Colorado College’s stated core values: “value all persons and seek to learn from their diverse experiences and perspectives”; “seek excellence, constantly assessing our policies and programs”; and, finally, “honor the life of the mind as the central focus of our common endeavor.”

         Many members of the staff and faculty at Colorado College have been advocating for this initiative, privately and publicly, for decades and students have been by their side but there has not yet been a collective effort on behalf of the students at the College to communicate clearly to faculty and administration exactly what we want from our education. Here and now is the time and place for Colorado College to become a national leader. The following are the points that we believe the faculty and administration at Colorado College need to enact in order for our education to be utilitarian, relevant, and ethical.  

1. The College needs a diverse curriculum; a commitment to including marginalized and/or outsider perspectives needs to be reflected in the syllabi of every single department or program on Colorado College’s campus. Diversity in the curriculum will be specific to each discipline, it means acknowledging that race, class, gender, and ability are not something “extra” but elements that already exist within the fabric of every discipline, whether or not explicitly stated; it means sometimes revising and adding content to syllabi; and it means expanding the list of authorities within a given discipline.[2] It also means each department will reflect on its own history, within the institution and within the larger narrative of each discipline’s conception, to evaluate how that history constructs our current understanding of the world.[3]

2. The College needs to reassess the current all-college course requirements in place to ensure that students are taking courses that are rigorous for an introduction to issues of global and social inequality.[4] Students should be introduced to these materials early in their academic career, within their first two years at CC. We do NOT believe these two credits are the only courses students should have where they interact with these subjects. 

3. Faculty development is the core of a diverse curriculum and pedagogy, this means the College needs to focus on committing to the development of the current faculty so that they are well-equipped to handle these issues in their classes, as relevant to specific disciplines.[5] What’s more, the college needs to continue its efforts in hiring and retaining more diverse faculty and staff.[6]

4. The forthcoming proposal to make Race, Ethnic Studies, and Migration a major should be fully funded and supported by Colorado College. As the proposal made on behalf of the Core Faculty of Race and Ethnic Studies says: “RES continues to consciously bridge the spaces between theory and practice, the classroom and the communities outside it, the individual and the individual as citizen.” Besides being a well-established, productive field of academia, having a Race, Ethnic Studies, and Migration major would enable students to develop important practical professional skills in cross-cultural competency and a basic social understanding of the world we live in.[7]

            In closing, as Stephen Quaye and Shuan Harper report about the effects of diversity on 15,600 undergraduate students after four years, all students, not just students of color, report that they are most satisfied with “faculty who employed methodologies that respected and were inclusive of cultural differences; constructed welcoming environments for sharing cultural perspectives; and required writing assignments that challenged students to think critically about diversity and equity issues.”[8] We believe a diverse curriculum for the students of Colorado College is not only valuable but essential to our success as educated people in the 21st century. Thank you for your time and commitment to our continued success.

Sign this petition to show your support if you are a currently enrolled student at Colorado College [PLEASE LIST YOUR FULL NAME, we cannot use anonymous signatures].We will request a formal, public response to the points in this petition by the second week of Block 8.

Co-authored by Amairani Alamillo ’16 and Han Sayles ’15

Endorsed by: Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, Colorado College Student Government Association, Glass House, Multicultural Organization of Students: An International Community, Native American Student Union, Queer Community Coalition, SOMOS, Students for the Awareness of South Asia & UBUNTU

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] See, CC's Diversity Progress Page Here

[2] See, J.F. Carr,. “Diversity and disciplinary practices.” Diversity Across the Curriculum: A Guide for Faculty in Higher Education

[3] J.F. Carr offers 5 suggestions for disciplinary change, specifically for “hard sciences, philosophy, theoretical political science, and disciplines focusing on older disciplines”:

1. Investigate what a particular discipline contributes to the academic discussions about diversity and what might be particular diversity concerns.

2. Investigate how disciplinary concerns operate to shape, authorize, and articulate knowledge across the curriculum.

3. Given each discipline’s traditional and professional concerns, consider where the curriculum can be most readily changed. 

4. Pressure the curriculum to articulate the relationships between and across disciplines.

5. “Translate” modern and U.S.-based diversity issues to alternative times, places, or academic areas.

[4] Currently, the all-college requirements include The West in Time, Global Cultures, Social Inequality, Scientific Investigation of the Natural World, and Quantitative Reasoning courses. The Global Cultures courses aims to encourage students to learn about non-Western societies and languages. The Critical Perspectives requirement critically analyzes underrepresented communities and focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and class. We would like a reevaluation of what course “count” for these majors.

[5] See, Susan Sciame-Giesecke, Dianne Roden, and Kathy Parkison, “Infusing Diversity Into the Curriculum: What Are Faculty Members Actually Doing?”

[6] See, Daryl Smith and Lisa E. Wolf-Wendel in The Challenge of Diversity: Involvement or Alientation in the Academy for an outline of 5 compelling reasons for hiring more diverse faculty and staff:

1.To provide support for the benefit of students from a particular group.

2. It is an important symbol about the student’s future and the institution’s commitment to inclusivity.

3. To create a more comfortable environment for minority students as well as for faculty and staff.

4. Diversity in faculty will change what is taught, it leads to diversity in curriculum.

5. A diverse faculty and staff reflect one measure of institutional success for an educational institution in a pluralistic society.

[7] The commitment to a Race, Ethnic Studies, and Migration major would not mean the relegation of these issues to only their department.

[8] See, Stephen Quaye and Shuan Harper, “Shifting the onus from racial/ethnic minority students to faculty: Accountability for culturally inclusive pedagogy and curricula.”​



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