Draft Multicultural Requirements revision proposal

The Senate wasn’t shown a copy of this for the discussion today, but here’s the draft that has been circulating on the listservs for the Town Hall meetings that have been going on, and which are scheduled for Th and Fri.

This draft will be used to focus conversations about possible changes to UO’s multicultural requirement. It is written in the language of a motion that could eventually go to the UO Senate for a vote. Ideally it will give readers something concrete to consider and revise.

Please be in touch (vpugs@uoregon.edu) if you would like to offer individual feedback. We look forward to working together on this important part of UO’s curriculum.

UO Multicultural Requirement: A Possible Revision

Section I

1.1 WHEREAS the University of Oregon has, since 1994, required two “multicultural” courses for a baccalaureate degree selected in two of three categories, American Cultures, International Cultures, and Identity, Pluralism and Tolerance.

1.2 WHEREAS the Black Student Task Force drew the campus’s attention to the degree to which our curriculum raised as a central thematic focus the study of unequal power distribution; allowed for attention to U.S. histories and communities; and emphasized resistance and resilience – rejecting a deficit model of identity.

1.3 WHEREAS the University’s response to the Black Student Task Force included the formation of a faculty-student Ethnic Studies 101 Working Group in January 2016, which ultimately recommended a shared, across-the-disciplines approach to teaching about “inequality and injustice” and developing students’ “skills to navigate a diversifying world” (BSTF memo).

1.4 WHEREAS a parallel joint committee of the Undergraduate Council and the University Committee on Courses expressed “dissatisfaction with the current categories and structure” of the multicultural requirement and identified a “diluting of the purpose and coherence of the requirement.”

1.5 WHEREAS the joint committee recommended updating the multicultural requirement category titles and descriptions to reflect “current scholarship in the field of critical multicultural education” and addressing an “imbalance in the categories” that means most UO students do not take American Cultures (AC) courses and, thus, “are not exposed to the critical conversations occurring in AC courses addressing a critical analysis of students’ cultural context and assumptions.”

1.6 WHEREAS a faculty group reporting to Undergraduate Council, the active, 12-member Working Group on Intercultural and Inclusive Teaching met across the 2016-17 academic year to consider the learning outcomes, teaching strategies, and curricular and support structures it determined best suited for building faculty and student capacities related to critical multicultural education.

1.7 WHEREAS on November 11, 2016 the UO Senate resolved to “strengthen our curricula to reflect the diversity of peoples and cultures that have contributed to human knowledge and society, in the United States and throughout the world.”

1.8 WHEREAS a broad effort to update the general education requirements, which have not been significantly changed since at least the 1990’s, is beginning this year with the formation of a Senate Core Education Task Force, the multicultural requirement is in obvious need of updating and can serve as an important first step and model for future changes in this broad effort.

1.9 WHEREAS the charge of the Undergraduate Council includes: (1) Review and promote the objectives and purposes of undergraduate education and assure that all policies and procedures, curricula, personnel and teaching decisions that affect undergraduate education are consistent and defensible with the institution’s undergraduate education mission as defined in the University’s Mission Statement and Statement of Philosophy, Undergraduate Education; (3) Formulate, monitor, and respond to general academic policies, especially those which have impact on undergraduate programs across the University.

1.10 WHEREAS the Undergraduate Council passed (INSERT TITLE) on (INSERT DATE).

Section II

2.1 BE IT HEREBY MOVED that the current Multicultural requirement be reduced from the current 3 categories (American Cultures (AC),International Cultures (IC) and Identity, Pluralism and Tolerance (IP)) to 2 new categories, United States (US) and International (INTL).

US courses will draw primarily on illustrative material from the United States.

INTL courses will draw primarily on illustrative material from outside the United States.

Transnational experiences of difference, power and agency will appear in both categories.

Students will be required to take one course from each of these categories.

2.2 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that Multicultural courses in each category formed in 2.1 will explicitly address:

  1. Inequality, that is, the operation of political, economic and other forms of power to exclude, subjugate, marginalize by establishing classifications and hierarchies on the basis of social formations such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, sub-nationality, etc.
  2. Resistance, that is, practices of agency and solidarity in response to discrimination or inequality, especially as manifest in the histories, linguistic forms, cultural production, and scholarship of those subject to discrimination or inequality.
  3. Intersectionality, that is, the reality that human populations cannot be neatly classified into single and discrete identity categories, but instead express multiple and changing forms of identification depending on multiple and overlapping social formations, histories, legal frameworks, and cultural practices.
  4. Listening and reflection, offering tools for ethical dialogue across many perspectives, to expand students’ abilities to engage in respectful, civil conversation on deeply felt issues on campus, and in wider national and global contexts.