Merits of Multicultural Education

The SA Committee on Multicultural Education has taken the stance there are advantages to adding multiculturalism to the required curriculum. As chair of this committee, I am inclined to present some of our rationale. This is done under an assumption which we have little trouble defending: exposure to issues involving questions of cultural diversity teaches one to manage diversity. This conception must become effective in their future career objectives. As our world becomes more “global” while our country becomes more diverse, students educated in American universities must recognize that we, as a society, are diversified. Under this assumption, two advantages of transforming this concept into a course are clear.

First, exposure to these ideals and concepts is best actualized in a course dedicated to the study of diversity. The “course-model” makes this a long-term examination of cultural difference accompanied with all the characteristics of academic courses such as speakers, critical thinking and reflection on important societal issues. When we, as a university, want to produce highly educated and capable students, we do so in a classroom. There is no reason why this subject matter should be treated any differently.

Second, a “class” would involve the most critical tool for understanding difference: interaction. As a course, this interaction would take place 2-3 times a week between students from diverse backgrounds. Through the examination of societal issues and the arguments that ground the opinions of the minority as well as the majority, this interaction will certainly occur. These are the advantages of moving the study of multiculturalism out of the exclusive realm of the occasional conference and into the classroom.

The question of what is the best strategy to bring these advantages to our campus has not yet been answered and this is the role of the Committee. Some propose that a class should be created while others suggest a cluster of already existing courses throughout the university be placed together and the requirement could be met by taking a course in one of many departments. It is even possible that such a course could be part of the degree program a student is pursuing. As it appears, students opposing such a course are privy to knowledge about the course which we have not even determined. How is it that students could say that our course is “mind-control,” “brainwashing,” “shoving our views down one another’s throat” and “forcing students to become PC,” when they have not even been exposed to what a class like this may become? I can assure all students that we are not engaged in such a pursuit. Our interests would never be served under such an agenda. With that, we move forward anticipating these positions of fear will soon transform into open-mindedness, and like any movement in the history of learning, this movement will be recognized for its rationale and the merits of its arguments.