The College Curriculum Council approved a new curricular designation, “Race, Power and Privilege,” which will be implemented for courses beginning in the Summer 2022 term, according to a March 16 Today@Brown announcement.
Replacing the University’s previously instituted “DIAP Courses: Race, Gender and Inequality” course designation, the RPP designation aims to more narrowly “highlight the University’s commitment to the study of race, racial formations, inequality and social justice,” the University’s announcement stated.
Many of the criteria and courses will be the same between the DIAP and RPP designations, but the naming of the designation is crucial to the University’s aim to address inequalities, wrote Besenia Rodriguez ’00, deputy dean of the College for curriculum and co-curriculum.
Rodriguez served on the 2016 Task Force to consider the efficacy of Brown’s curriculum in providing students with opportunities to engage with issues of race and power, and chaired the 2020-21 Working Group on Diversity in the Undergraduate Curriculum.
The RPP designation was originally recommended by the 2016 Task Force on Diversity in the Curriculum with the goal to “more accurately reflect the institutional priorities delineated” in Building on Distinction, Brown’s 2013 strategic plan, and the 2016 DIAP action plan, according to the 2016 DIAP report.
In addition to recommending the implementation of the RPP designation, the 2016 Task Force Report also called for reconvening a committee in three years to “evaluate the progress made on the recommendations.”
At the time, the CCC supported the Task Force’s new definition of the curricular designation but decided on the “DIAP Courses: Race, Gender and Inequality” title to “de-center race and to connect to the larger University-wide DIAP process,” Rodriguez wrote.
The 2020-21 Working Group restated the 2016 Task Force’s recommendation for the implementation of the RPP designation in a 2021 report with only modest changes for clarity. The 2021 College Curriculum Council Working Group on Diversity in the Undergraduate Curriculum Report cited “increasingly public, racist violence and other national events of the (last) several years” in explaining the importance of implementing the RPP designation.
A vast majority of the courses that fulfilled the requirements of the DIAP designation also qualify for the new RPP designation and will be automatically reviewed by the CCC. Instructors of new courses and ones that did not carry the DIAP designation will be able to submit syllabi to request the RPP designation, according to the RPP website.
Currently, 140 courses in 30 subject areas are listed under the RPP designation on Courses@Brown over the 2022-23 academic year.
Brown has used curricular designations to highlight courses that examine issues of race and racism, and the histories and forms of resistance of communities of color since 1985 when the “American Minority Perspectives” designation was created, according to the 2016 Task Force’s report.
“One of the strengths among Brown undergraduates is their desire to use their knowledge and skills to address global problems, including addressing inequities,” Rodriguez wrote.
Rodriguez also noted the importance of the advising network at Brown in helping students find interests within the RPP designation. She said that the University hopes that the “advising community … will encourage students to take RPP courses in areas they may want to concentrate in and in areas that they may be interested in exploring outside of their concentrations.”