The research is clear: student retention rates, college
satisfaction, grade point averages, and intellectual and social
self-confidence are higher at colleges and universities that value
diversity. But this kind of educationally productive diversity does not
happen by accident. It grows from institutional commitments and concrete
policy changes (AAC&U, 1998).
Introduction & Purpose
I open this article with the above quote, which summarizes the
research conclusion on the value of sustainable campus-wide diversity
initiatives on college and university campuses. This article describes
one institution's sustained effort to engage faculty across campus
in curriculum transformation. The traditional canon for college and
university and public school curricula in the United States has
historically been deeply entrenched in Eurocentric paradigms that
provide narrow views of history and social realities.
Instructional materials, pedagogies, and activities that students
encounter have been narrow and limiting in their perspectives of the
world, and in facilitating dispositions and cross-cultural competency
needed for navigating and negotiating diverse social and cultural
contexts. Unfortunately, today's college and university faculty do
not have a choice but to prepare themselves to respond more boldly to
the diversity phenomenon in their courses and pedagogy. The reasons are
clear: trends in enrollment in higher education suggest that there is an
increase in overall enrollment, and that the increase is mostly from
ethnic minority groups.
Also, data suggests that between 2000 and 2015, the Latino American
college-age population is projected to increase by 52 percent, Asian
Americans by 62 percent, African Americans by 19 percent, and American
Indian/Alaskan Natives by 15 percent (U.S. Department of Education,
2003). More critically, there is an increase in the proportion of all
high school seniors in minority groups who plan to continue their
education at four-year colleges and universities after high school (U.S.
Department of Education, 1999).
This demographic reality demands that institutions respond
accordingly, if they are to stay competitive and remain in business.
Some institutions have begun to engage aggressively in efforts to become
responsive to the diversity in their campus cultures, so that they can
attract, recruit, and retain students and faculty from diverse
For example, it is common to see and experience diversity
activities on various campuses--cultural festivals, multicultural
celebrations, minority scholars in residence, ethnic cuisines in campus
cafeterias, diversity sensitivity training, and lecture series that
bring to campus prominent scholars with expertise on diversity,
particularly those of color. It is common to find programs on ethnic
studies such as African American, Asian, Latino, Native American, and
women's studies as evidence of a commitment to diversity. Further,
many colleges and universities have revised their mission statements to
reflect diversity and social justice.
While these efforts are great, they are insufficient to create and
reflect true institutional transformation. A true institutional
transformation must be targeted in curriculum offerings, classroom
environment, and pedagogy, to provide for a sustained, systematic, and
inclusive learning experience that prepares students for responsible and
rewarding citizenship in a multicultural democracy and interdependent
As research suggests, in today's diverse world and workforce,
students would need a range of competencies, including cultural
understandings, open-mindedness, higher-order thinking, and relational
skills for negotiating and navigating diverse cultural, social, and
political contexts, and civic engagement for social change (Banks, 2005;
Barber, 1992; Guarasci et al., 1997; Noddings, 2005; Sehr, 1997;
With a new "minority" majority on the rise (Rendon &
Hope, 1996), institutions do not have a choice but to respond more
responsively and responsibly to the challenge of diversity. Faculty and
students from underrepresented groups are exerting enormous pressure on
institutions regarding issues of diversity, access, and equity.
Today's ethnic minorities are more aware of issues of diversity,
and seek institutions that support critical diversity programs,
especially diversity-based curricular and classroom experiences. Some
institutions, organizations, agencies, and scholars are contending that
true institutional diversity transformation cannot occur without
curriculum transformation (American Association of Colleges and
Universities [AAC&U], 1999; American Council on Eduction [ACE],
1998; Barber, 1992; Guarasci et al., 1997).
Unfortunately, the traditional schooling of many faculty has not
prepared them to respond to the diversity challenge within their
disciplines, teaching, and student learning (DeMulder & Eby, 1999;
Marchesani & Adams, 1992). Thus, for faculty who experienced a
monocultural curriculum and so have a limited knowledge base on
diversity, transforming curriculum to be more inclusive and to reflect
diverse perspectives and issues does not come easily. Often, the
requirement to do so can engender fear, threat, and resistance.
Thus, many faculty and college instructors continue to be
complacent with monocultural curricula, while interacting with students
from diverse racial, ethnic, gender, social, and linguistic backgrounds.
To assist these faculty to embrace diversity curriculum infusion, it is
critical to scaffold the process for them. This article describes one
institution's sustained program that empowers its faculty across
units, departments, and disciplines, to successfully engage in
curricular and pedagogical transformation in a non-threatening,
synergetic, collegial, and collaborative environment.
Defining Diversity and Curriculum Transformation
The word "diversity" is often defined and interpreted in
a myriad of ways by different people, which in a way contributes to the
confusion and misrepresentation and misapplication of the concept in
discourses and curriculum. It becomes important to have a clear
understanding of the concept. Smith (1997) has offered a definition that
is straightforward and appropriate for institutions such as colleges and
For the purpose of this article, I prefer to define what I consider
"critical" diversity, which is the intersecting dimension of
human differences that may serve as basis for differential treatment of
individuals, with the potential to diminish their access to opportunity,
equality, social justice, and fulfillment of their dreams. These
dimensions include race, gender, class, language, nationality, sexual
orientation, and exceptionalities. Thus, integrating diversity into the
curriculum would mean representing multiple points of view about diverse
human experience and competing constructions and understandings of
social, historical, and natural phenomena when concepts, theories,
paradigms, events, and issues are studied.
Before discussing curriculum transformation, it is necessary to
define what is meant by curriculum. Schwab (1983) explains curriculum as
what teachers convey to students in different forms using appropriate
materials and actions. Cornbleth (1988) sees curriculum as the dayto-day
interaction of students, teachers, knowledge, and the milieu. But more
importantly, Cornbleth describes curriculum as a contextualized social
process. Hollins (1996) writes about the way the curriculum legitimizes
knowledge, perspectives, values, and interactions and relationships
among people and institutions. In particular, she explains three types
of curriculum: (1) the overt curriculum that is intentional of what is
legitimated, (2) the implicit curriculum, which is indirect and
transmits certain legitimated values and practices without planning and
thought, and (3) the null curriculum that consists of knowledge valued
by marginalized groups but omitted from the curriculum as a matter of
routine (pp. 1-2).
At the college and university level, faculty make decisions about
what curricular experiences are deemed essential. Who faculty are, their
worldviews, and their knowledge bases often play an important role in
what knowledge they choose to convey and how they convey it to students.
Given that the traditional curriculum has exclusively reflected
European-and male-centric perspectives, curriculum diversification aims
to foster content and delivery that is fair, balanced, and accurate
(Banks, 2001; Takaki, 1993).
Curriculum transformation involves expanding the traditional canon
to include "other" voices that have been silenced and
marginalized in scholarship and theory, as well as the pedagogies,
activities, and questions that are used to help students understand,
investigate, and determine how implicit cultural assumptions, frames of
reference, perspectives, and biases within a discipline influence the
ways in which knowledge is constructed (Banks, 2005; Gay 2000; Nieto,
2005). A transformed curriculum eliminates the hegemonic content
embedded in an exclusive curriculum and creates one that acknowledges
new knowledge based on the perspectives, experiences, and worldviews of
traditionally marginalized groups.
A transformed curriculum is empowering, liberating, and ushers in
"new ways of thinking and incorporates new methodologies so that
different epistemological questions are raised, old assumptions are
questioned, subjective data are considered, and prior theories either
revised or invalidated" (Marchesani & Adams, 1992, p. 15). More
critically, curriculum transformation involves pedagogical
transformation or new ways of teaching and learning, especially
student-centered pedagogy (Border & Chism, 1992; Butler, 1991;
Curtis & Herrington, 1995; Ladson-Billings, 1995).
Why Curriculum Transformation?
Proponents of curriculum transformation contend that such an
initiative promotes balance, equity, and social justice and reduces
marginalization. Transforming curriculum results in important practical
and educational benefits for the campus, especially for students
(AAC&U, 1998; ACE, 1998; Smith, 1997; Wilson, 1996). Smith (1997)
reviewed the benefits of diversity on students in higher education, and
found that diversity initiatives positively benefit both minority and
majority students on campus, especially in improving attitudes and
feelings toward intergroup relations. Also, he found that comprehensive
institutional change in teaching methods, curriculum, and campus climate
benefit both minority and majority students, especially majority
students who have had less opportunity for such development.
Further, Smith found that critical engagement of issues of
diversity in the curriculum and in the classroom has a positive impact
on students' attitudes toward racial issues, fostering
opportunities for interacting in deeper ways with diverse perspectives
and cognitive development. In a multicultural democracy and an
interconnected world, curriculum transformation is not only an academic
responsibility; it is a moral imperative and social responsibility.
Scott (1994) explains:
Connella's (1997) work has raised a critical question about
education and faculty teaching when he asks: "How do we respect
diversity? Does the curriculum respect the multiple knowledges and life
experiences of learners from diverse backgrounds?" While some
institutional changes such as affirmative action and celebratory
activities such as ethnic festivals permeate college and university
campuses, and are helpful, they don't begin to address the
substantial work needed to achieve the goals of diversity education.
Real changes can only manifest when students are able to experience
transformational learning where they are able to "transform
taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning perspectives, habits of
mind, mind-sets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open,
[changeable], and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and
opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action"
(Mezirow, 2000, pp. 5-8). This transformation will not occur by engaging
in shallow, celebratory activities that do nothing to challenge students
and faculty cognition about how they have constructed their world and
meaning making (Dewey, 1963; Mezirow, 1997). In other words, real change
toward an inclusive society, equity, and social justice can best be
achieved when students have opportunities to engage in critical
curricular and scholarly inquiry, and develop a reflective multicultural
Why Faculty Have Not Embraced Curriculum Transformation
Research suggests that many faculty, especially those of European
ancestry, resist diversity curriculum infusion because of their
oppositional and philosophical ideology. Carl Grant (1994) refers to
this as "myths and misconceptions about curriculum
transformation." Grant explains that resistance to multicultural
curriculum transformation occurs because of the misconception that: (1)
it is for "minority" students only, so if you don't have
minority students, don't infuse diversity; (2) it only applies to
the arts and humanities and not to mathematics and the "hard
sciences; and (3) it waters down knowledge and is poor scholarship
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, multicultural curriculum reform
became heavily debated on many college and university campuses as well
as in the popular media, in what became known as the "culture
wars" (Asante, 1987; Banks, 1988; Berman, 1992; Bloom, 1987;
D'Souza, 1991; Hirsch, 1987; Waugh, 1991). At the heart of this
debate was the legitimacy of curriculum transformation or the myth of
On one hand, proponents of curriculum transformation argued that
the curriculum for preparing students for a diverse society ought to
reflect the diversity or the pluralistic nature of the larger
society--the different perspectives, realities, cultures, and histories
of all individuals and groups. That is, there is no one "model
America" (AACTE, 1975; Asante, 1987; Banks, 1988; Nieto, 2000).
More importantly, they argued that a diversified curriculum is the
legitimate curriculum for developing students' higher order
thinking skills and perspective consciousness for a multicultural
On the other hand, opponents, mostly conservative educators and
historians, as represented by William Bennett, former Secretary of
Education, Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education,
Chester Finn, former Assistant Secretary of Education, E.D Hirsch, a
University of Virginia professor emeritus, Dinesh D' Souza, author
and analyst, Lynne Cheney, former chair[wo]man of the National Endowment
for the Humanities, and Allen Bloom, a former University of Chicago
professor, to mention a few, argued that a diversified curriculum that
integrates issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and class does
not promote unity in diversity, and instead, makes the curriculum
vulnerable to a variety of social agendas that politicizes it (Ravitch,
1990; Finn, 1990).
Also, they argued that a multicultural curriculum waters down the
curriculum; that it is not serious scholarship worthy of inquiry.
Further, they argued that multicultural curriculum only makes minority
students feel good; that making students feel good is not the role of
schools but that of church, synagogues, and other worship centers
(Ravitch, 1991). Instead, they insisted that a legitimate curriculum for
all American students is one that emphasizes the superiority of the
civilizations and cultures of Europe that have influenced American
institutions, mores, and values. George Will (1989) puts it as follows:
It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the various
points of arguments related to the debate on multicultural curriculum
(see Asante, 1991; Bloom, 1987; Ravitch, 1990).
Whether these debates may have influenced faculty's resistance
to curriculum transformation is questionable. However, in recent years,
new insights have surfaced regarding faculty resistance to curriculum
transformation. It is increasingly evident that many college and
university faculty are interested in diversity curriculum transformation
and want to transform their courses, but, because they have not been
grounded in multicultural education in their years of university
training, they shy away from engaging in the process. As Clark (2002)
Models of Curriculum Transformation
Over the years, a few models of curriculum transformation have been
proposed (Banks, 2005; Butler & Schmitz, 1991; Grant & Sleeter,
2005; McIntosh, 1995). Generally, these models have followed a
stage-based approach that proceeds from monoculturalism to
transformationism. James Banks (2005) has developed two models that have
been popular in the literature.
The first model describes levels of multicultural curriculum
development that includes: the contributions approach, commonly known as
the "heroes and holidays" approach, in which educators
integrate content about ethnic and cultural groups during special
heritage recognitions such as African American History month, Martin
Luther King, Jr. holiday, and Women's History month; the additive
approach, which adds a topic or book about a cultural/ethnic group to
the existing curriculum structure; the transformation approach, which
involves changing the structure of the curriculum by using a theme-based
approach so that multiple perspectives and complexities can be viewed
and analyzed; and the social action approach, which is the highest form
of transformation, in that it moves students beyond mere knowledge
construction and acquisition to studying critical social issues and
making decisions on a course of action to bring about change.
Banks' second model, which describes dimensions of
multicultural education, consists of five elements: content integration,
which is a deliberate approach to integrating content about diverse
groups throughout the course; knowledge construction, which recognizes
that knowledge is a social construction and moves educators and students
to question and examine events and issues from multiple perspectives but
more importantly to question the biases, misconceptions, omissions, and
distortions inherent in materials and classroom discourse but more
critically, employs the use of multiple texts or supplemental materials
that provide divergent perspectives on the course; prejudice reduction,
which involves the integration and interrogation of beliefs, values and
biases that are due to cultural socializations and social
positionalities as paradigms, theories, and concepts are studied; equity
pedagogy, which refers to teaching strategies, delivery methods,
communication, and interactional styles, assessment activities engaged
in during the process of teaching and learning.
This second model includes knowledge of students' learning
styles, such as auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile (Dunn, 1995),
and multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1984), that necessitates varying
instructional strategies to accommodate diverse learners. For instance,
the traditional method of teaching college classes is the lecture mode,
which alienates ethnically diverse learners who have been researched to
benefit mostly from cooperative and collaborative learning (Irvine,
1990; Dunn, 1995).
Most importantly, equity pedagogy involves issues of power
relations and dynamics between faculty and students and among students,
and raises questions such as: whose voice is heard? Who is challenged
and given attention? Who has opportunity to learn? Who is silenced, and
how? Lastly, empowering school culture refers to policies and practices
promoted throughout the program and the larger university community. At
the classroom level, this involves the "hidden
curriculum"--rules and procedures that reflect mainstream values
(McLaren, 1988), classroom dynamics, and how ethnically diverse learners
are empowered or disempowered in the course through openness or lack of
openness to their perspectives when issues and themes are discussed,
affirming their dignity, etc.
Carl Grant and Christine Sleeter's (2005) Turning on learning:
Five approaches for multicultural teaching plans for race, class,
gender, and disability is a practical book that focuses on specific
lessons and units in different subject areas including mathematics and
hard sciences, and integrates issues of race, gender, class and
disability into courses. It uses the "before" and
"after" approach that shows a lesson/unit plan with and
without infusion, and explanation for the differences and changes.
UMKC Diversity Curriculum Infusion Program (DCIP)
Background and Context
For decades the University of Missouri-Kansas City has been a
predominantly White institution. Although located at the heart of a
metropolitan community comprised of African American, Latino American,
Asian American, the working poor, immigrant, and migrant populations,
the University has been segregated and exclusionary--literally closed to
minority populations. The ethnic composition of the student and faculty
body has been minimal. The university has had a negative reputation in
the eyes of the urban community for non-responsiveness to its needs.
However, with a new leadership in 2000, the campus, as well as the
urban community, was invited to participate in conversations that would
bring about transformation of the university's culture. The goal
was to move the university toward assuming leadership in "defining
the standards in higher education." Several faculty, staff, and
community members of diverse background came together to engage in a
series of conversations about the university's cultural
Among other things, the diversity "breakthrough" project
emerged, which would be the first of its kind in the history of the
university. More importantly, diversity became one of the core values of
the university's culture and the Office of "Diversity in
Action" (now Office of Diversity, Access, and Equity) was
established. As one of the major contributors to the "diversity
breakthrough" project, I seized the opportunity to promote my
interest and passion--curriculum transformation.
In 2003, I submitted a proposal to the Coordinating Board on
Diversity (CBOD), an advisory body to the Office of Diversity in Action,
to initiate the diversity curriculum infusion project--creating a forum
where faculty from across campus would learn to develop the knowledge
base, skills and dispositions necessary for successfully infusing
diversity into courses. The Director of the Office of Diversity in
Action was pleased with the idea and approved the proposal.
Besides my passion for campus diversity initiatives, one critical
factor that motivated my drive for the curriculum transformation
concerned my frustration with preservice teachers' resistance in
the cultural diversity course I taught at the University. Before my
employment at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I had taught
previously at another university located in a rural community. Many of
the preservice teachers at this previous institution were predominantly
European Americans, who were monolingual, low-middle class, and from
rural, farming communities that knew no racial diversity. I experienced
tremendous resistance from these preservice teachers who felt they did
not need the multicultural "crap" because they would be
teaching in communities where there was "no" diversity.
After five years at this institution I moved to the University of
Missouri-Kansas City, a metropolitan urban university, with the
expectation that I would not only have a diverse group of students, but
European American students who were culturally aware. Unfortunately, I
met with the same resistance and frustration as I had experienced at the
rural university. Although these students would have completed all their
general education courses before entering my multicultural education
course, I found that many of them had limited exposure to issues of
race, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, etc.
Each time I taught the course I experienced tremendous resistance
from students who felt "guilty by association" and experienced
cognitive dissonance (Howard, 2006). Most of the students displayed
feelings of guilt, anger, hostility, frustration, and resistance
(Ahlquist, 1998; Brown, 2004, Howard, 1999; Ladson-Billings, 1991;
Ukpokodu, 2003). Consequently, I redesigned my course to include a field
experience in which students shadowed a culturally different person in
multiple contexts (home, school, worship center, recreational centers,
etc) for an entire semester to gain critical awareness and knowledge
about diversity (Ukpokodu, 2004).
Although the students appreciated the experience and talked about
learning a lot about diversity and dispelling preconceived notions they
held about those different from themselves, many complained that it was
too little, too late. The students became painfully aware that they had
been shortchanged by their general education preparation. The following
comments shed some light.
One thing I wanted to mention and that is not part of this
reflection [paper], but I turned into while completing it, is that I
don't feel that this is a subject [cultural diversity] that can
adequately be covered in a semester-long setting. While I haven't
taken classes in the School of Education save this one, I have taken
almost all of my general education requirements. One of the things that
bother me now is that nearly all of those courses, except for a
literature course, have been from a Eurocentric point of view. I was
required to take a Western Civilization class, but not have any
knowledge of other cultural groups. I feel that there is a need to have
a multicultural curriculum in all courses. Even in the literature class
I took, there was an expectation of reading only ONE non-Eurocentric
book. What I am trying to say is that while [this course] may be a step
in the right direction, I'm wondering if it's a big enough
step. (Female, Caucasian)
It seems like every semester I try and take a course that will
relate to my own personal experiences and after a little while it tends
to slide in one way. I rarely get to discuss issues from a nonwhite
perspective. I mean, let's talk about issues about diverse people
and Third World Countries. Let's talk about how other segments of
the population are living. (Female, African American)
Goals of DCIP
The goals of DCIP are: (1) to develop a cadre of faculty committed
to transforming courses to reflect diversity--diverse perspectives,
issues and social justice; (2) to encourage faculty who had successfully
gone through the program to serve as mentors for their colleagues and
lead workshops and seminars on curriculum transformation and development
in their respective units and departments; and (3) to encourage faculty
engagement in diversity-related scholarship in their disciplines.
Today, the program has become a visible and integral professional
development for faculty at the university. Since its inception, four
cohorts of the program have been successfully facilitated. Using
compelling data from the literature and the university's goals and
existing realities, especially those relating to diverse student and
faculty recruitment and retention, I made presentations to the Deans
Academic Council, Faculty Senate, and the Provost, and received
Diversity Curriculum Infusion Institute (DCII)
The Diversity Curriculum Infusion Institute (DCII) provides a forum
for facilitating the four whole-day monthly workshops. Faculty
participation requirements include: (a) submission of an application and
the syllabus to be infused; (b) participants must be full or part-time
faculty; (c) participants must be enrolled in the Diversity Curriculum
Infusion Institute (DCII) and attend four whole-day monthly workshops in
the fall semester; (d) participants must revise and implement the
revised course the following winter semester; and (e) participants must
make a presentation of the revised course and the implementation
experience at the culminating and celebratory forum.
The first workshop is the orientation and introduction to the
diversity curriculum infusion process. Mostly, participants are engaged
in experiential activities, in partnerships and small groups. Some
activities involve sharing stories about their experiences with
diversity in and outside of the academy; engagement in "the level
playing field" activity that raises participants' awareness of
how they may or not have been privileged by the traditional curriculum
and pedagogy; performing a skit on the rationale for curriculum
transformation; and working in small groups to define diversity and
This activity is highly engaging and interactive, as participants
discuss their views and understanding of diversity and each group
sharing their collective ideas. The activity also is a crucial
eye-opener for many participants, as they listen to commonalities and
differences embedded in the definitions. Generally, each group tends to
name the critical categories of diversity--race, gender, class,
language, sexual orientation, abilities, etc. Following the group
discussion on diversity, Smith and Associates' (1997) definition is
presented and discussed:
Next, participants are engaged in discussing what diversity
curriculum infusion entails, and why transformation is necessary. I
define diversity curriculum infusion as a process whereby the concepts
and perspectives of cultural pluralism are integrated into the
curriculum, and involves the content, pedagogies, activities,
assessment, resources, and questions that faculty use to help students
understand, investigate, and determine the implicit cultural
assumptions, frames of reference, perspectives, and biases within a
discipline, as well as how they influence the ways with which knowledge
is constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed (Banks, 2005).
Following the preliminary activities, much of the remainder of the
first workshop is focused on the presentation of processes and
strategies for infusing diversity into the curriculum. This involves six
areas of infusion:
1. Course description and objectives: The syllabus of a transformed
course should explicitly provide a description that reflects the
concepts and goals of diversity and social justice. The course
description should signal to students that they will be encountering
diverse perspectives and issues in the course, aimed at helping them to
think critically about diversity. The following fundamental questions
can be extremely helpful in developing course description and objectives
that reflect diversity: (a) How does my discipline help prepare students
to live and work in today's culturally diverse, democratic society,
in an interdependent world? (b) How does my course empower my students
to develop diverse perspectives about the paradigms and concepts of my
discipline? and (c) How does my course help students understand the
global goal of education in a culturally diverse society, and develop
the skills and dispositions for reconstructing society for social
2. Content Integration: James Banks (2005) explains content
integration to mean incorporation of content from multiple perspectives
and the use of examples and illustrations that reflect cultural
perspectives, global perspectives, issues of equity and social justice,
activities, and assignments that allow students to engage in exploring
diverse perspectives about the discipline and specific content studied.
The idea of diversity curriculum infusion is to ensure that diverse
perspectives permeate the entire course, rather than follow a tokenistic
approach in which there is one topic or week of study on diversity that
often is placed toward the end of the course, and runs the risk of not
being taught due to time constraint.
This gives students the impression that the diversity topic is
marginal and unimportant rather than an integral part of the course. It
is critical to strive to represent diversity while integrating it into
important concepts throughout the course. Also, the attempt to infuse
diversity into courses should be carefully considered. Oftentimes,
because of the desire to bring in diverse perspectives, there is the
tendency to go to the other extreme of presenting topics and materials
primarily from one ethnic background.
For instance, in a literature course, this may involve studying the
ethnic topic in isolation, from the perspectives of authors of color
exclusively. The goal of curriculum infusion is to ensure balance,
fairness and accuracy. It is critical to ask: What topics have I
infused? What is missing? What and whose perspectives have been infused?
Is diversity integrated throughout the course or just added? What issues
of diversity, social justice and civic engagement are infused?
3. Instructional Resources and Materials: This involves texts
selection that is inclusive of diverse content or topics, and evaluating
them for accuracy, balance, and fairness. Ask pertinent questions: What
texts/materials am I using in the course? Have I critiqued such
materials for invisibility, linguistic bias, stereotyping, imbalance,
unreality, fragmentation, and cosmetic bias (Sadker & Sadker, 1992)?
4. Faculty and Student Worldviews and Learning Styles: This
involves the faculty examining and understanding his/her worldview about
teaching and learning, and, most importantly, considering students'
learning styles and the imperative to use an array of delivery
strategies instead of the lecture-only approach. It is critical to ask,
as you plan to revise the syllabus: Who are my students? What are their
learning styles? Have I considered diverse students' learning
styles? What strategies will effectively meet their learning styles and
5. Delivery strategies: This involves changing teaching strategies
and classroom dynamics to make it more culturally responsive. Unmasking
the curriculum and pedagogy in college and university classrooms to meet
the needs of diverse student populations means rethinking the way
curriculum and instruction are carried out. Since research shows that
most instructors engage in traditional pedagogy that is dominated by
lecture, where students engage in unhealthy competition, instructors
must rethink this pedagogy and work to diversify their instructional
strategies. They must learn to create and foster a learning community
where students feel autonomous, a sense of belonging and competence
(Deci & Ryan, 1992; Freire, 1970; McLaren, 1988; Shor, 1992).
Integrating diversity into courses means that the faculty will be
creating conditions that engender cognitive dissonance or disequilibrium
in students. Students who have learned one truth or one version of truth
will find new perspectives not only disturbing, but unsettling. It is
important to anticipate possible classroom dynamics and conflicts and
how to handle them when they surface.
Asking pertinent questions is helpful: How do I create space (s) in
my classroom for student engagement in diverse and conflicting
experiences and perspectives? How do my students and I learn to engage
effectively in creative controversy, constructing multiple points of
view on issues? How do I assist my students in developing openness to
multiple perspectives and the lived experiences of others?
Changing one's teaching format can help alleviate the
potential for conflict. This can involve creating safe spaces for
students to debate, take a stand, discuss, and to support their views
and encourage critical thinking and expansion of views. In addition,
using online threaded discussions is extremely powerful in engaging
students in exploring and discussing critical issues of diversity.
It is critical to recognize that teaching courses infused with
diversity, demands a different learning environment. A learning
community must be in place, which means that the faculty and students
must work together as co-learners, to establish classroom norms that
nurture autonomy, belonging, and most importantly democratic values and
attitudes, such as respect, compassion, collaboration, kindness, and
6. Diversified Assignments and Assessment: This requires creating
alternative activities and assignments for students to demonstrate what
they know and have learned, other than the traditional assessment format
in which students can only choose the "right" response without
the opportunity to explain their thinking. More critically, this
involves openness to students' divergent thinking and problem
solving skills. Diversified assessment activities should include oral
examination, individual and group projects, research, self-assessment,
reflective journal writing, open-book and take-home examination.
Also, it is very important to create assignments that allow
students to apply diversity-related concepts and skills that have been
emphasized in the course which allow them to explore the connections
between course content and their own interests and experiences.
Pertinent questions to ask are: What assignments have I required? How
diversified are the assignments? Do the assignments allow for divergent
thinking? Am I open to students' divergent thinking?
The second workshop focuses on self-transformation. To engage in
diversity curriculum infusion is not as simple as just adding
multicultural content into an existing syllabus. First, it means that
the faculty must explore his/her commitment to the philosophy of
diversity by examining his/her beliefs, values and assumptions about
schooling and society. As Nieto (2000) explains, to be a multicultural
educator is first to become a multicultural person. Howard (1999) also
emphasizes that before we can effectively engage in curricular
transformation, we first need to transform ourselves.
As already stated, many college and university faculty were not
disciplined in the area of diversity and multicultural education. Also,
many faculty have been mostly influenced by behavioristic theoretical
perspectives and thinking that emphasize the traditional concept of
teaching and learning which views the professor as the all-knowing and
students as passive learners. Further, many faculty have also functioned
mostly in encapsulated personal and professional environments, where
they have not been challenged about their provincial beliefs, biases,
assumptions and values.
Thus, faculty would need opportunities to engage in critical
diversity discourses in non-threatening environments, where they are
able to build a knowledge base on diversity, and confront their own
values and beliefs about diversity, diversity scholarship, before they
can successfully engage in diversity curriculum infusion. In fact, they
would need to experience what Howard (1999) calls "La Tierra
Transformativa" before they can transform and successfully
implement diversity-infused courses.
Teaching is a human activity, and as such, faculty project their
beliefs, values, experiences, expectations, and standards onto their
students and the courses or content they teach. Simply, faculty teach
who they are. As Palmer (1998) explains, as [we] teach, [we] project the
condition of [our]soul onto [our] students, the subject, and our way of
being together (p. 2). Lisa Delpit (1995) echoes the same thought when
she explains, "we all carry worlds in our heads, and those worlds
are decidedly different (p.xiv). Teaching is a passionate activity. It
is impossible to teach passionately about what we do not believe in.
Faculty must first clarify their biases, beliefs, values, and
assumptions about diversity, diverse "others," more
importantly confront their racial/cultural identity before they can
effectively engage in diversity curriculum infusion and pedagogy. They
must know who they are as socio-cultural beings and the impact of their
socialization and learned beliefs on their interaction and communication
with students with different racial, ethnic, cultural, language, class
and sexual orientations. If they do not know who they are, they cannot
know and teach their subjects, at least "not at the deepest levels
of embodied, personal meaning" (Palmer, 1998, p.2).
Hence the second workshop focuses on self-transformation.
Participants read and discuss the book We can't teach what we
don't know (Howard, 1999). Discussing We can't teach what we
don't know often generates heated discussion and debate about the
ideas of racial identity, White dominance, privilege, and racism.
Generally, the discussions are enlightening and mostly collegial.
To move toward self-transformation, faculty would need to seriously
reflect on who they are, how they have viewed the world, knowledge and
their philosophy and commitment to diversity. They would need to ask
fundamental questions: What is my perspective on diversity and its
scholarship? What are my beliefs, values, and assumptions about a
pluralistic society and diverse "others"? What knowledge have
I constructed, and how has it influenced my thinking and action? What
issues do I have with diversity and its scholarship? How do I reconcile
The third workshop is devoted to presentation of participants'
preliminary draft of course revision. Each participant provides an
overview of the pre-infusion syllabus, and new ideas to be infused. Upon
the completion of each presentation, all participants are invited to
provide constructive feedback and to raise questions that open up new
perspectives. Personally, this is the highlight, the most enlightening
and exciting aspect of the institute. For one, it generates a synergy of
collaboration and scholarship, as participants provide great ideas, even
when they may not be familiar with the subject.
Following the presentation of the preliminary draft of the syllabus
revision and the constructive feedback, participants revise the course
and implement it the following winter semester.
Fourth and Last Workshop
The fourth and last workshop is the culminating and celebratory
experience in which each participant presents the pre-and post-syllabus
diversity infusion and the implementation experience. This is another
enlightening and exciting experience, as participants share their
stories and reflections of the project. The presentations are often
elaborate, some with multimedia presentation of projects, assignments
students were engaged, and the classroom dynamics that transpired. But
more importantly, participants share personal reflections regarding the
strengths and challenges they encountered, ideas and plans for further
Resources and Compensation
During the institute participants are provided three books--A
different Mirror: A multicultural history of America by Ronald Takaki
(1993 that documents the immigration experience of groups from different
shores; We can't teach what we don't know: White teachers,
multicultural schools by Gary Howard (2006), which explores issues of
social dominance and self-transformation; and Turning on learning: Five
approaches for multicultural teaching plans for race, class, gender, and
disability by Grant and Sleeter (2005), which is a guide for integrating
diversity--race, gender, disability into all subjects including science
and mathematics--into courses. Additional materials including Internet
resources are also shared.
Generally, faculty who successfully complete the program receive an
incentive in the amount of $1,000 for professional development and
program completion certificate. Of course, there is the free lunch at
Program Outcomes and Analysis
Since the inception of the program in the 2003-2004 academic year,
four cohorts of faculty have participated, with a total participation of
120 from eighteen departments and units that include engineering,
English, education, history, computer, pharmacy, nursing, medicine,
civil & mechanical engineering, economics, dentistry, business, law,
communication studies, sociology, music, geosciences, and social work.
Demographically, there have been 81% European Americans and 19% faculty
of color. Forty-seven percent of the participants have been males and
fifty-three percent female. Fifty-three were assistant professors, 32%
associate professors, 7% full professors and 8% lecturers.
Among the participants, 87% indicated that they had not infused
diversity into their courses prior to participating in the program.
Thirteen percent had infused some sort of diversity, but these faculty
teach courses in sociology, education, history, human development, and
family law which naturally embed diversity issues. However, these
faculty, also acknowledge that they knew little about the scope of the
diversity curriculum infusion. Sixty-six percent of the participants
indicated that they did not have knowledge of diversity let alone how to
infuse it into their courses. Twenty-nine percent indicated that they
had some knowledge of diversity, and 5% indicated that they were
knowledgeable about feminist epistemology and pedagogy.
Analysis of the "before" and "after" course
syllabi revealed that 93% of the participants had engaged in some level
of diversity infusion although mostly at the additive level (Banks,
2005). Most changes or revisions were in the area of projects students
were engaged such as service learning and modifying teaching strategies
and diversifying assessment activities. Most participants documented
moving beyond the traditional lecture method and fostering student-based
learning. Overall, most participants noted that, although the process
was challenging they had learned from the experience and gained new
ideas for improving their courses and found the effort most rewarding
Strengths and Challenges of the Program
Like every new adventure, the DCIP has its strengths and
challenges. A major strength of the program is that curriculum
transformation has become a visible event at the university. In general,
there is evidence of faculty interest in the program. Participants often
encourage and help recruit their colleagues for the next round of
participation. Participants are generally committed to the workshops and
make efforts to attend all of them, even if it meant leaving to go to
teach a class and then returning to the workshop.
More importantly, the synergy and collegiality that is generated is
a humbling experience. Participants tend to value and appreciate the
opportunity to be engaged with and interact with colleagues across
campus, in a supportive and collegial environment, and especially
learning about their perspectives and views about diversity issues and
the curriculum infusion process. Most participants are generally honest
about sharing their fears, admitting their sense of inadequacy in a new
territory. Most importantly, for me, the synergy, the collegiality, and
the collaborative learning or learning together that evolves is
incredible and rewarding.
Most faculty have commented that they have never had opportunities
to engage in these kinds of "hard" issues in the academe. At
the completion of the institute, some faculty request more or advanced
workshops. Another evidence of the strength of the program is that
faculty have become more motivated not only to revise their existing
courses but to also create new courses on diversity to enhance their
programs. This is particularly so with the Nursing and Social Work
programs. In addition, some faculty are re-titling their courses to
For example, one faculty member changed a course that was
originally titled "Integrated arts for elementary schools" to
"Integrated multicultural arts for elementary schools."
Further, the program has aroused faculty interest in the scholarship of
diversity, and has created opportunities for new area of research within
their disciplines. Recently, some faculty have made presentations at
major conferences about their analysis and reflections on their
Overall, participants have expressed appreciation for the
opportunity to be empowered and challenged in a new way; to dialogue
about diversity and curriculum infusion with faculty from different
departments and across units; for raising their consciousness of
diversity and its enrichment in the curriculum; for energizing their
teaching; increasing their knowledge base on diversity; for learning new
teaching strategies, and becoming aware of diverse learning styles. The
following comments also offer some insight:
This project has been great. I genuinely enjoyed sharing ideas with
faculty across disciplines. It is very interesting to hear how others
have tackled these very important and complex issues. The workshops were
informative and really energized me, particularly at the start of the
semester. Overall, this project has served to strengthen my commitment
to diversity. (Male, European American)
This project has reinforced my commitment to diversity and teaching
from a diverse perspective. The positive student response and the
"charge" in the class that I experienced this year was, I
believe, directly attributable to the changes I made as a result of this
project. I appreciate the opportunity to have been involved and look
forward to continued conversations. (Female, European American)
This workshop has raised my consciousness of diversity and its
manifold enrichments to our curriculum. I have recruited two colleagues
for next year's institute. The best ingredient was the cross-campus
comparisons with my colleagues in the Institute, in all sorts of
disciplines at all levels of instruction. Dialogue and sharing were
maximized. I have broadened my definition of diversity beyond my
traditional triad of race, gender, class. (Female, European American)
Even though I am a faculty of color and knowledgeable about issues
of diversity, this project helped me to broaden my understanding of
diversity issues and diversity curriculum infusion. Oftentimes, it is
assumed that faculty of color naturally have knowledge of diversity and
the diversity curriculum infusion process. I realize from this project
how little I knew. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to
dialogue with faculty across campus about diversity discourse, which is
very rare. (Female, African American)
Like any new adventure, conceptualizing and implementing the
Diversity Curriculum Infusion program comes with challenges. First,
seeking support and buy-in can be challenging. As we know, most college
and university campuses have engaged in the "culture wars"
and, yes, there are faculty who support curriculum transformation and
those who defend and insist on maintaining the status quo, the
Anyone wanting to initiate and facilitate this program must first
establish a critical mass of faculty committed to diversity with whom to
network. It is extremely important to gain the support of the provost.
Curriculum matters belong to academic affairs, and the provost is
extremely important in this regard. What I discovered is that it is
important to develop a sound rationale for why it is important,
especially as it relates to student academic development and
achievement, and the recruitment of students and faculty from
Another challenge to expect is faculty resistance. You will
encounter some faculty who will experience and feel overwhelmed by
cognitive dissonance as their world reality is challenged by the
presentation of new critical perspectives or if they are challenged to
do things differently and responsibly. As we all know, faculty are not
easy to deal with, when it comes to academic matters. As one participant
As we know, we faculty can be very territorial! Sometimes you will
experience faculty who will resist and even make racialized comments,
and you have to be extremely careful how you respond. You want to
respect participants and at the same time be tactful in challenging
their inappropriate comments without alienating them. But most faculty
are generally very humble, respectful and appreciative of the
experience. As with working with our students, patience is extremely
Some ways I have used to deal with resistance in the program are to
invite conversation and dialogue. Rather than react to a
participant's disturbing or racialzed comments, I invite others to
dialogue about the comment. This strategy often opens the door for
sharing diverse perspectives that enlighten and challenge the person to
rethink his or her position or comment. Frequently, a participant may
remark, "oh, I did not think of it that way."
One major source of resistance I encounter from some participants
comes from the book discussion We can't teach what we don't
know by Gary Howard (2006). Some participants react strongly to the
content of the book, especially to issues of race, white dominance,
white privilege, racial identity, and inequities and social injustice.
Resistance also comes from some participants' reaction to
comments/feedback raised during their presentation. As the facilitator
of the institute I encourage other participants to raise questions or
provide constructive feedback to participants' presentations. As a
member of the learning community and facilitator, I also participate in
raising questions or comments about participants' presentation, and
suggest ideas for improvement.
Some participants appreciate questions raised or feedback provided,
but some do react negatively to such questions or feedback. While I
strive to be respectful of participants' efforts I find it
responsible to raise questions or comments to further their development.
Another source of resistance I encounter comes from the submission of
documents, especially the revised syllabi for review.
Like the experience with students in our classrooms,
participants' level of commitment varies. There are participants
who embrace and truly commit to the experience, and the revised syllabi
reflect it. On the other hand, I have been challenged by a few
participants who struggle with the process and whose works do not
reflect the expectation. Overall, I commend participants who have braced
themselves to undertake the project. Curriculum transformation is not an
easy task; it can be daunting to say the least. The idea of diversity
and curriculum transformation can be threatening to faculty. As Schoem,
et. al (1993, p.5) well noted:
Summary and Conclusion
The scholarship on curriculum transformation at the college level
is sparse. Hopefully, this article will contribute to this area. In a
multicultural democracy, a legitimate curriculum is one that enables
students to study about events, paradigms, people, issues and problems
in a comprehensive, systematic, and reflective way. The rationale for
transforming curricular experiences and pedagogical practices is to
ensure that all students are adequately prepared for participation in a
multicultural democracy and an interdependent world.
But more importantly, it makes curricular experiences culturally
responsive to students from diverse cultural backgrounds who often are
underserved by institutions that are premised on Eurocentric and
patriarchal hegemonic ideologies and canon. The college attendance and
graduation rate of students from minority backgrounds is not at par with
students from majority backgrounds. A society that neglects a segment of
its population is shortchanging itself. Given the trends and projection
in demography, minority students will compose a significant proportion
of the nation's schools.
It is noted that individuals from minority backgrounds too often
are not entering critical fields such as mathematics, science,
engineering and technology (Office of Educational Research and
Improvement (OERI, 1998). This is a serious concern, as the nation will
not have the human resources needed to effectively participate in an
economically competitive world. The National Research Council (NRC)
echoes this concern as well, when it states that "the
underrepresentation of the generation of minorities leads to further
underrepresentation in the next, yielding an unending cycle of
Imperatively, college and university faculty must take on the
challenge to ensure that they are culturally responsive and responsible
for the diversity inherent in their disciplines, courses, pedagogy and
student learning. While this challenge may seem daunting to institutions
and their faculty, the program described in this article provides
inspiration. Based on observation and conversations with faculty
participants, it is my belief that many faculty are interested and
committed to diversity curriculum transformation. They only need
encouragement and a supportive environment to learn the tools needed to
engage in the process.
This demands a concerted and sustained effort on the part of the
institution. The offices of the provost and diversity are extremely
instrumental in this process. The provost, in particular, must send a
bold message to faculty that curriculum transformation is a priority in
the collegial experience of students. The deans and department heads
must also be committed to the process and encourage and support their
faculty to participate in the Diversity Curriculum Infusion program.
Faculty or staff desiring to undertake this kind of program must learn
to be patient and resilient. It is a challenging yet a valuable and
Finally, it is important to recognize the essential goal of
curriculum transformation. In an increasingly diverse and interconnected
world with unprecedented challenges, higher education must prepare
students to embrace the moral and ethical responsibility to confront and
wrestle with the complex problems they will encounter in today's
and tomorrow's world. True institutional transformation that
reflects diversity will not occur without curricular and pedagogical
Our hope for a better, more humane, and socially just society and
world depends on how well our graduates are prepared to cultivate the
competencies, including cultural understandings, open-mindedness and
perspective consciousness, needed to navigate diverse cultural, social
and political contexts and effect social change. In this regard,
curriculum transformation cannot be more relevant and urgent.
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Diversity on campus encompasses complex
differences within the campus community
and also in individuals who compose that
community. It includes such important
and intersecting dimensions of human
identity as race, ethnicity, national origin,
religion, gender, sexual orientation,
class, age, and ability ... [this] definition
is closely related to patterns of societal
experiences, socialization, and affiliation
and influence ways of understanding and
interpreting the world. (p. 7)
We have an academic responsibility and
a moral obligation to provide students
with an inclusive education that will enable
them to deal with the contingencies
of living in a diverse world. Research
shows that when students are taught
from an inclusive curriculum they are
eager to learn; they are more engaged in
the teaching/learning process. They want
more inclusive course content throughout
the education process. Faculty who are
involved in integrating diversity into their
curriculum report that their teaching is
revitalized, their student evaluations improved,
and their overall job satisfaction
increased. (p. 67)
Eurocentric is right, in American curricula
and consciousness, because it accords with
the facts of history, and we--and Europe
are fortunate for that. The political and
moral legacy of Europe had made the most
happy and admirable of nations. Saying
that may be indelicable, but it has the
merit of being true and the truth should
be the core of curriculum. (p. 3)
The problem is that few know how to go
about doing it. Until recently, few, if any,
doctoral programs included coursework
on how to teach one's discipline, much
less how to teach it from a multicultural
perspective. (p. 37)
Diversity on campus encompasses complex
differences within the campus community
and also in the individuals who
compose that community. It includes
such important and intersecting dimensions
of human identity as race, ethnicity,
national origin, religion, gender, sexual
orientation, class, age, and ability ... these
dimensions influence ways of understanding
and interpreting the world.
I was impressed by how hard it is to teach
a group of people (academics) who tend to
assume they/we know everything already.
This [institute] was a much needed humbling
experience for me.
[It] forces them to acknowledge that their
insights and knowledge are limited, that
they have studied the world from a narrow
perspective, and that even they, the
supposed experts, must retool, go back to
study, review their life's work, and face
difficult challenges in content and pedagogy
in their classrooms. It will also mean
that they must share some power.