Diversity dedication not reflected in curriculum

by Remi Omodara

It is evident that Whitworth is significantly lacking in terms of curricular diversification when evaluating a recent campus study conducted by Halualani & Associates. The research was conducted to determine Whitworth’s success at being a launching pad for globally-minded citizens. During the past few years, Whitworth has made strides to better measure up. However, implementations still need to be made because of Whitworth’s commitment to diversity.

After gathering data from the Campus Experience Survey and conducting a year of research with more than 500 of Whitworth’s documents, Dr. Rona Halualani and her team found that Whitworth’s curriculum needs major reformation to increase the variety of perspectives in order to succeed. Diversity courses focus mainly on one culture or language versus a variety. Having a variety of perspectives is important if Whitworth’s desire is to foster open-mindedness.

 Another issue is the loophole trend. It is easy to take a course that is in one’s major and count it toward the diversity credit, which does not push students out of their comfort zone or challenge their thought process. There ends up being a significant amount of freedom to choose that limits the potential for students being exposed to necessary material that cultivates open-mindedness.

 Diversity plays a huge role in the fulfillment of Whitworth’s mission statement and the desire to “educate critical thinkers, discerning moral agents and responsible democratic citizens,” according to Whitworth’s website. That idea is intertwined with the university’s vision. Having a sound curriculum to back up this vision would bolster support for Whitworth’s efforts.

 Students expressed a desire to be better educated on different viewpoints concerning sexual orientation and gender. The study also found that there is a breakdown in awareness about the aim of Whitworth’s diversity studies. Students don’t necessarily understand why it’s essential. The responsibility falls on Whitworth to connect diversity studies with various areas of discipline for more enriched learning.

 These findings aren’t to say that Whitworth hasn’t made efforts to provide this diverse atmosphere. There are faculty members with jobs mainly focused on diversity efforts. However, fostering a diverse campus doesn’t simply mean encouraging a place where students from all backgrounds, whether race, socioeconomics or beliefs, attend the university. It demands building a curricular structure that fosters mental growth through knowledge about diverse opinions, experiences and walks of life. Those faculty members need a sound curriculum to back up their efforts. By setting a solid foundation with a strong curriculum, Whitworth will bolster diversity efforts and be better equipped to attract its desired target market.

 Whitworth is on a positive trajectory, but making necessary modifications to the curriculum to include a wider array of perspectives is a good way to begin living out the mission of fostering a campus committed to diversity.

Contact Remi Omodara at romodara14@my.whitworth.edu

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