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UCS briefed on proposed DIAP course designation

If approved, DIAP-designated courses would have stricter standards, approval process

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 9, 2017

The University may soon abandon its Diverse Perspectives in Liberal Learning course designation in favor of a new “Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan” designation, announced Dean of the College Maud Mandel and Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum Besenia Rodriguez ’00 at the Undergraduate Council of Student’s meeting Wednesday night. Mandel and Rodriguez, along with five members of the College Curriculum Council, put forth the idea that the DIAP designation would have more stringent and specific standards than the current DPLL designation.

The CCC, which is chaired by Mandel and oversees the undergraduate curriculum, will vote on the changes Feb. 28. If the CCC approves the proposals offered by the Task Force on Diversity in the Curriculum, then the DIAP designation will appear in courses for the 2018-19 academic year. Faculty would have to submit courses for a DIAP designation regardless of whether the course is already DPLL designated.

Mandel began her presentation by describing growing concerns raised by the Task Force that the DPLL designation had become watered-down. The Task Force released a report in August 2016 that reviewed how the University could ensure “sufficient educational offerings on issues of race, ethnicity, inequality and social justice.” The Task Force found that the DPLL designation had failed to appropriately label courses that focused those topics, Mandel said.

According to the report, the guidelines to label DPLL courses are too broad. The current definition for the DPLL designation comprises three vague tenets, two of which speak to broad critical learning skills and only the third addressing power and privilege, Mandel said.

The lack of specificity led the Task Force to conclude that the current standards had become “too expansive to be truly meaningful” and that “it could be difficult to find a Brown course, regardless of topic or discipline, which would not meet the definition,” according to the report.

In response to these findings, the Task Force suggested replacing the DPLL label with a DIAP designation that will better reflect the University’s goal of educating undergraduates about diversity, Mandel said. DIAP-designated courses should go through a more rigorous review process in order to receive the designation, and larger DIAP survey courses should be created and marketed to incoming students, according to the report.

Rodriguez spoke to the importance of a DIAP designation in helping students find classes “across the curriculum.”

“We’ve seen a few courses that have received so much interest that students were lined up outside of the room during shopping period, (students) who (were) really interested in learning about racism, about inequality and about structures of power,” Rodriguez said.

The committee to review the designation would include the CCC, Senior Associate Dean of the College for Diversity and Inclusion Maitrayee Bhattacharyya and two faculty members with expertise in DIAP topics, Mandel said. Each approved class would be reviewed every five years to ensure that courses truly reflect the designation.

UCS members suggested using Meiklejohns to promote DIAP courses and asked specific questions about how to encourage departments to develop more DIAP courses, especially departments that have more difficulty integrating courses about DIAP topics.

Some in UCS argued that the University should create a DIAP requirement similar to the WRIT requirement rather than just a designation. Mandel responded by reaffirming the University’s belief that the most effective way to encourage students to delve into a subject is to create interest in the topic, not require the study of it. The creation of a DIAP requirement might also create a precedent and potentially lead to the creation of other requirements, which conflicts with the freedom of the open curriculum, she said.