Initiative intended to enhance diversity curriculum

A new course development initiative is intended to enhance Iowa State's U.S. diversity curriculum requirement.

Launched by the office of the senior vice president and provost, Faculty Senate and Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), the initiative will support faculty who either create new U.S. diversity courses or significantly modify current courses that meet the requirement.

Faculty creating new courses can receive up to $10,000 in development support. New courses must meet departmental, college and university curriculum committee requirements, and must first be offered as an experimental ("X") course.

Faculty making major modifications to existing U.S. diversity courses can receive up to $5,000. Modified courses must continue to meet departmental, college and university curriculum committee requirements. Priority will be given to courses with a history of high enrollment.

"The initiative is a great opportunity for Iowa State's faculty to reimagine diversity education, particularly with a focus on current issues," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "I am hopeful we can better serve students, while at the same time create a national model for curricular excellence."

U.S. diversity requirement is 20 years old

Since 1996, Iowa State has required undergraduate students to complete at least one course that focuses on multicultural society in the United States. This curriculum requirement was designed to help students achieve four distinct learning outcomes:

  • Articulate how personal life experiences and choices fit within the context of the larger mosaic of U.S. society, indicating how they have confronted and critically analyzed their perceptions and assumptions about diversity-related issues
  • Analyze and evaluate the contributions of various underrepresented social groups in shaping the history and culture of the United States
  • Analyze individual and institutional forms of discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc.
  • Analyze the perspectives of groups and individuals affected by discrimination

Currently, about 170 courses meet the requirement. However, as students and faculty have pointed out, not all of these courses may meet the four learning outcomes. The Faculty Senate curriculum committee is reviewing current U.S. diversity courses to make sure their content meets defined learning outcomes and reflects the education needed to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus.

Faculty Senate president Jonathan Sturm noted that "The U.S. diversity requirement is an important part of the curriculum, reflecting Iowa State's educational mission to provide both the historical perspectives and critical thinking skills to help students become global citizens."

In addition to meeting the four original learning outcomes, the new and modified courses should focus on current issues related to diversity and inclusion, foster inclusive classroom environments and feature high-quality course design and appropriate instructional strategies.

According to CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden, faculty selected for grants will receive initial consultation for instructional design planning, follow-up consultation and other faculty development through ongoing CELT programs, including the Inclusive Classroom Initiative.

Proposals due Jan. 16

Proposals are due Jan. 16, 2017. New and modified courses must be offered in the fall 2017, spring 2018 or fall 2018 semesters. The request for proposals and proposal template is available on the CELT website. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee that includes representatives from:

  • Faculty Senate's academic affairs council, curriculum committee, and equity, diversity and inclusion committee
  • Office of the vice president for diversity and inclusion
  • Student government

Funding decisions will be announced in February 2017. Multiple awards may be made in each area. Questions regarding the initiative may be directed to VanDerZanden or Mark Looney, chair of the Faculty Senate's equity, diversity and inclusion committee.