Cultural Diversity

Cultural Diversity pertains to the study of life experiences of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, or Asian Americans. Courses satisfying this requirement shall:

  • Have primary focus on African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, or Asian Americans
  • Introduce students to significant elements that ground the life histories and life prospects of one or more of the groups listed above
  • Scrutinize perspectives, world views, methodologies, and philosophic constructs which the group(s) use(s) to describe, explain and evaluate its/their life experiences over historical time
  • Enhance and extend the student’s ability to conceive and perceive transcultural similarities and dissimilarities, and make sound empirical as well as normative generalizations

Our educational philosophy rests on the principle that learning to work across differences of cultural background, experience, and affinity is essential to intellectual growth and life-long learning. We encourage courses and projects that go beyond simply celebrating our diversity. The Cultures & Communities curriculum interrogates where differences come from, how they constantly change, and how they get invented, re-invented and represented through social and historical practices. This enriches academic scholarship, broaden student horizons, expand pedagogical boundaries, and open the university to community perspectives. Diversity inevitably means disagreement, conflict, and the struggle to create community out of real differences. Dialogue and inquiry prospers by working through differences rather than ignoring or repressing them. Critical self-reflection is vital to the process of questioning of one’s own assumptions.

Yet, cross-cultural understanding should be a reciprocal activity, including processes of listening and reflection, inquiry and dialogue, fact-finding and reassessment. Cross-cultural understanding can also mean gaining a substantial knowledge of diverse cultural traditions and acquiring competence in learning from people whose ancestry and affinities differ from one’s own. The Cultures & Communities certificate program especially welcomes courses and projects that address some of the following criteria:

  • Equip students with the cross-cultural understanding necessary to respond constructively to the pluralistic character of American society
  • Increase students’ capacity to value the cultural backgrounds and contributions of a nation’s historically marginalized groups, particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Latino/a Americans, and Asian Americans
  • Explore perspectives, world views, methodologies, artistic traditions, and philosophic constructs that such group(s) use to describe, explain, and evaluate its/their life experiences
  • Analyze critically the historical and social construction of “race” and “ethnicity,” their relation to “white privilege,” and their impact on various dimensions of human life, including how such constructions create systematic inequalities between the dominant and the marginalized
  • Facilitate an understanding of what it means to live in a society that may display hostility to the individual on the basis of stereotypes of fundamental, frequently unalterable, characteristics of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or national origin
  • Examine methods for identifying examples of inequality or covert discrimination that can be documented yet are rarely acknowledged by those not negatively affected
  • Each concepts and methods that enhance and extend the student’s ability to analyze the transnational and transcultural dimensions of human life.

Excerpts from The Eleven Principles of PLAN 2008, University of Wisconsin

This plan focuses on African Americans, Latinos, Asians with an emphasis on Southeast Asians, and American Indian faculty, staff and students (in hiring, recruitment, retention, graduation and financial aid). International students are not a PLAN 2008 targeted population.

People of Color include the full spectrum of human diversity: men, women, differently-abled, gay, bi-sexual, lesbian, or trans-gendered. Therefore, when institutions reshape or create initiatives for PLAN 2008, they must address the diversity within race ethnic groups.

The University of Wisconsin System recognizes the need to create educational experiences, both in and out of class, that respects, cultivates and builds upon the diversity that all groups bring; (i.e. gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and differently-abled). We encourage campuses to continue, and to build upon, their progressive initiatives for the above mentioned populations.

The Design for Diversity three-credit graduation requirement on historically under-represented U.S. racial/ethnic groups (African American, Latino, Asian American, and American Indian) remains unchanged. Course requirements on international issues, women, gay, bi-sexual, lesbian, or trans-gendered groups are complements to the graduation requirement and yet may not be substitutes for the requirement. Additional institutional course requirements complement the Design for Diversity requirement and may be developed at an institutional level to enhance the caliber of the educational experience.