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US17/18-18: Repeal of Multicultural Requirement and Introduction of US: Difference, Inequality, Agency and Global Perspectives Requirements

Date of Notice: January 10, 2018

Current Status: Notice Given

Motion Type: Legislation

Sponsor: Lee Rumbarger; Multicultural Requirement Task Force


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 identified a shortcoming in the degree to which our curriculum raises as a central thematic focus the study of unequal power distribution and allows for attention to US histories and communities.

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 2016 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 Working Group on Intercultural and Inclusive Teaching, met across the 2016-17 academic year and ultimately recommended 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 the multicultural requirement can serve as an important model in a broader process to update UO’s general education requirements.

1.9 WHEREAS many of our comparator universities have replaced requirements that teach cultural pluralism and tolerance with programs that foster rich, often experiential engagement with both global cultures highly divergent from familiar US worldviews, and historical patterns of identity-based injustice and exclusion in the US.

1.10 WHEREAS Oregon State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of California, San Diego, University of Vermont, Florida International University, and Pitzer College (among others) have enacted thoughtful requirements for understanding the United States and its cultural/racial histories, and for engaging the world. These examples inspire our efforts to rethink our own requirements.

1.11 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.

1.12 WHEREAS the Undergraduate Council passed this proposal to withdraw the UO multicultural requirement and replace it with Difference, Inequality, Agency: US and Global Perspectives on 18 April 2018.

Section II

2.1 BE IT HEREBY MOVED that the current multicultural requirement be replaced with two new requirements, one course in each category: 1) US: Difference, Inequality, Agency and 2) Global Perspectives. that undergraduate students will take one course in each of two new categories: US: Difference, Inequality, Agency and Global Perspectives. These two courses will replace UO’s current multicultural requirement.

2.2 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that courses in the US: Difference, Inequality, Agency category formed in 2.1 will develop students’ analytical and reflective capacities to help them understand and ethically engage with the ongoing (cultural, economic, political, social, etc.) power imbalances that have shaped and continue to shape the United States. This engagement may also include the relation of the United States to other regions of the world. Each course will include scholarship, cultural production, perspectives, and voices from members of communities historically marginalized by these legacies of inequality.

Each course will undertake one or more of the following:

  1. Teach respectful listening and tools for ethical dialogue in order to expand students’ abilities to practice civil conversation and engage with deeply felt or controversial issues.
  2. Facilitate student reflection on their own multiple social identifications and on how those identifications are formed and located in relation to power.

Each course will address:

  1. Intersecting aspects of identity such as race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, indigeneity, national origin, religion, or ability.
  2. The uses of power to classify, rank, and marginalize on the basis of these aspects of identity, as well as considerations of agency on the part of marginalized groups.
  3. Historical structures, contemporary structures, forms of knowledge, cultural practices, or ideologies that perpetuate or change the distribution of power in society.

2.3 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that courses in the Global Perspectives category will foster student encounter with and critical reflection upon cultures, identities, and ways of being in global contexts. Each course will include substantial scholarship, cultural production, perspectives, and voices from members of communities under study, as sources permit.

Each course will undertake one or more of the following:

  1. Teach respectful listening and civil conversation as critical tools for collective student engagement with topics that are controversial today;
  2. Provide critical vocabulary and concepts allowing students to engage and discuss topics with which students may be unfamiliar.

Each course will engage with one of more of the following:

  1. Texts, literature, art, testimonies, practices, or other cultural products that reflect systems of meaning or beliefs beyond the US context;
  2. Power relations involving different nations, peoples and identity groups, or world regions;
  3. Consideration of hierarchy, marginality or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, or ability (or some combination).

Note: Approved study abroad programs also fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement.

2.4 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that we recommend significant, faculty-endorsed professional teaching development opportunities to support the teaching of this key part of the curriculum and research on this pedagogy.

2.5 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that courses that fulfill the multicultural requirement in either the US or GP category will include on their syllabus a short rationale and shared set of student learning objectives, which may be augmented by individual faculty. The Senate Core Education Council will be charged with providing this language and refreshing it periodically as part of a continual process of improvement and evolution of the curriculum.

2.6 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that until current courses are resubmitted for approval for the new categories, all current AC courses will be placed in the new US category, all current IC courses will be placed in the new GP category, and all IP courses will be placed, by the UOCC, in either the new US or GP category depending on their primary body of illustrative material.

2.7 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the UOCC is charged with developing a process and timeline for the resubmission and approval of current courses. To ensure broad consultation and minimization of disruption to current departments and courses, the UOCC will propose a process and timeline to the Senate for review and approval in the spring 2018 curriculum report.

2.8 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the Core Education Council is charged with exploring and potentially recommending optional further study options for each category, consisting of a menu of possible activities (experiential learning and service, research, advanced coursework) from which students select. The Core Education Council will also explore and recommend ways in which this further study should count toward degree requirements.

Should the Senate approve these requirements, the Senate Core Education Council will work with the Teaching Engagement Program and Undergraduate Studies to develop, for later consideration and approval by the Senate, the further study optional pathways, menu of approved optional activities, and how those activities would count toward degree requirements.

2.9 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the new requirements will be in effect in Fall 2019.

Presentation from 4/25 Senate meeting

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Senate Meeting Agenda – April 25, 2018


Location: EMU 145 & 146 (Crater Lake rooms)
3:00 – 5:00 P.M.

3:00 P.M.   Call to Order

  • Introductory Remarks: Senate President Chris Sinclair

3:10 P.M.   Approval of Minutes, April 11, 2018

3:10 P.M.   Business/Reports

3:50 P.M.    Open Discussion
:50 P.M.   Reports
:55 P.M.   Notice(s) of Motion
3:55 P.M.   Other Business

4:00 P.M. Executive Session

Vote: Honorary Degrees

5:00 P.M.   Adjourn

Diversity, Power, Agency Task Force

The Diversity, Power, Agency task force (DPA) has been asked to review the Multicultural Requirement (MCR) and make recommendations for updates/revisions. The following are excerpts  from the task force’s conversations thus far. This project is ongoing and feedback is encouraged. Continue reading Diversity, Power, Agency Task Force