Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in CHALLENGES OF MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION: TEACHING AND TAKING DIVERSITY COURSES, ed. Norah Peters-Davis & Jeffrey Shultz (Boulder, C): Paradigm Publishers, 2005). Copyright 2005 Paradigm Publishers. Used by permission.


A "diversity" requirement was added to the liberal arts undergraduate curriculum in most colleges a decade ago; at our large Research I campus it is called the "Area H" requirement of the comprehensive education program. As part of our sociological and pedagogical inquiries, we launched a research project to reflect on the experiences of faculty and graduate instructors who teach "Area H" diversity courses. Our goal in conducting and analyzing some sixty in-depth, face-to-face interviews is to understand how intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality intertwine with instructors' classroom teaching experiences.

As we teach multicultural elements that encourage educational transformations, instructors collide against a curriculum in which students lack systematic linkages to multicultural scholarship before or after this specific course requirement. Instead, it is experienced by both students and instructors as an "add on" that often clashes with the worldviews of the students themselves and those of their other university instructors. As such, 117 hours of hegemonic curricula prepare students for three credit hours of resistance to the scholarship and instructors engaged in "Area H" work. For graduate students and faculty of color who enter a racialized academy, the assignment to teach diversity courses can be a particularly difficult career pathway. Our dialogue seeks to explicate themes within our teaching and scholarship that speak to that hidden curriculum and invisibility of identity within "diversity" education.

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