University News

Curricular diversity task force announced

Task force to reassess Diverse Perspectives in Liberal Learning, sophomore seminars

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, March 4, 2016

Provost Richard Locke P’17 announced the creation of the Task Force on Diversity in the Curriculum Thursday in a community-wide email. The group is charged with evaluating how the University can stay true to commitments to inclusivity set forward in the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan unveiled by President Christina Paxson P’19 Feb. 1.

The provost’s task force will be chaired by Maud Mandel, dean of the College, and includes a number of faculty members from a variety of departments as well as two undergraduate student representatives.

Some of the largest departments are represented on the task force, which includes members of the biology, economics and engineering departments. The committee will also include Tony Bogues, director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and professor of Humanities and Critical Theory, and Nancy Khalek, interim director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and associate professor of religious studies.

The DIAP stipulated that the task force be formed to move “diversity-related intellectual questions to the center of the curriculum,” according to the Office of the Provost’s website.

The group has a number of charges centered on determining how the University, its faculty and curriculum are promoting “inclusive classroom practices” and where there is room for improvement in that regard.

Reevaluation of existing programs is also a tenet of the task force’s charge. The Diverse Perspectives in Liberal Learning courses will be assessed with special consideration as to whether or not they meet “Brown’s current goals regarding curricular needs,” according to the Office of the Provost’s website.

Founded in 2002, the DPLL program was originally intended to ensure that students not only “understand the complex dynamics of social inequity, exclusion and difference” but also “do something with what they learn,” according to the site.

DPLL courses were previously labelled as “American Minority Perspectives,” and the name change reflects the University’s effort to effectively label classes that deal with questions of “power, privilege, racism, diversity and inclusion,” Mandel told The Herald.

The group will also review sophomore seminars to evaluate how they “encourag(e) student engagement with questions of diversity and inclusion,” according to the provost’s website.

It’s unclear whether or not DPLL or similar courses will be enforced mandatorily, a demand made by student activists in response to an initial draft of the DIAP, The Herald previously reported.

“That is not listed as one of the specific tasks that the committee is investigating,” Mandel said. But she noted that discussion of course requirements within the task force is “inevitable” considering discourse on the issue last semester.

One line of the email notes that the task force will determine the best practices for Brown and “elsewhere,” a section Mandel said was indicative of the broader American academic climate.

“There are other schools that have grappled with the question of diversity in the curriculum,” Mandel said, adding that looking at peer institutions is the key to discovering best practices and creative ways of thinking to address the issue.

The task force met for the first time Wednesday and will continue to meet regularly throughout the semester. Its work will culminate in a list of recommendations. Locke closed his campus-wide email by noting that he and Paxson “look forward” to reviewing the task force’s findings by fall 2016.

“The work of the task force is essential in ensuring that Brown is a richly diverse and inclusive academic community,” Locke wrote, adding that the curriculum should be defined by “academic rigor, scholarly excellence and a range of ideas and perspectives.”

3 Comments

  1. Eric Rohmer says:

    barf.

    • Willie Sam says:

      Very excited to see Tony Bogues on the panel. Did a wonderful job chairing the investigation of mob rule at the Ray Kelly lecture and then blaming it on widespread white supremacy and “institutional racism” at Brown. Can’t wait to see what recommendations the panel offers this time.
      The Cultural Revolution at Brown U under CPax marches on

  2. ShadrachSmith says:

    Mandatory re-education for whatever the DNC meme happens to be 🙂

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