Sociology, Department of


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Published in Journal of Higher Education 80:1 (Jan/Feb 2009), pp. 80-105. Copyright © 2009 by The Ohio State University. Used by permission.


The movement for multicultural or diversity-centered education has resulted in changes to the academic demography of the United States (Banks, 1991; Butler & Walter, 1991; Goodstein, 1994; Morey & Kitano, 1997). Institutions of higher education have integrated the voices, knowledge, and lived experiences of various underrepresented cultures and excluded groups into their formal academic curriculum. A recent survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) shows that 63% of colleges and universities report that they have in place, or are in the process of developing, a diversity education component in their undergraduate curriculum (AACU, 2003). Of those that have implemented dimensions of diversity into their curriculum, the majority of campuses (68%) require their students to take at least one course from among a list of approved diversity-education courses. The success of many colleges and universities at integrating this level of multicultural or diversity education into the academic curriculum marks a significant higher education milestone. However, an organized and entrenched resistance to this movement has emerged at both individual and organizational levels (Butler & Walter, 1991; Jayne, 1991). The diversity-education classroom, in particular, is a site wherein this conflict takes on particular meaning for instructors of color at all academic ranks including graduate teaching assistants and full professors (Perry, Moore, Acosta, Edwards, & Frey, 2006; Turner, 2002). Much of the existing scholarship on higher education and multicultural classrooms has focused on the impact of backlash and resistance in the general academic workplace (Yang, Barrayo, & Timpsin, 2003; Timpsin, 2003). Our current study is part of a larger investigation into the professional, emotional, and physical labor associated with teaching diversity-education courses in higher education.

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