DEI committee wants to expand diversity in Core Curriculum

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TCU Core Curriculum may be expanded to reflect the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for future students.

Dr. Ariane Balizet, associate professor of English and Women’s Studies. Photo courtesy of AddRan College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Claire Sanders and Dr. Ariane Balizet, faculty chairs of the DEI committee, are strategizing a plan that would include DEI for students and faculty across all departments.

Michelle Nguyen and Hope Bentley, fourth-year students and chairs of the DEI subcommittee, are actively working with Sanders and Balizet in developing the proposal. Through the TCU Justice Coalition, they plan to work with students to better understand the importance of DEI within their departments and encourage them to bring their voices to professors.

The committee looked at the places of diversity in university missions and curricula in TCU’s peer institutions, such as Rice University, Baylor, Vanderbilt University, SMU, Creighton University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Lehigh University, Santa Clara University, Tulane University and Wake Forest University. The committee compared their findings and found that TCU was behind our peer institutions in implementing diverse encounters with individuals and groups that are central to students’ university experience.

Additionally, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of “Great Colleges to Work For in 2018” indicated that diversity is one of only two categories in which TCU did not receive any recognition or merit.

“What many of our peer institutions have required in their core are experiences that specifically situate the students in a conversation about diversity and how that conversation impacts the students,” Balizet said.

The core requires students to take a class to raise cultural awareness. These include courses such as language, rhetoric and culture, women in literature, and culture and sex, gender and culture as part of the graduation plan.

Including DEI will further draw students’ attention to these issues in a way that specifically relates to their majors, such as nursing, science and engineering, business and math, said Balizet.

The committee’s proposal is to create a course in DEI that will work as an overlay under essential competency and writing emphasis without adding any additional credit hours.

The proposal must first go through the Faculty Senate, where they vote to approve. From there, it goes to the faculty assembly, where the entire faculty will vote on the proposal.

To advocate for this proposal, the DEI committee asks students from every college to challenge their professors and deans and ask why there is no current DEI overlay available for them. The committee also asks faculty to challenge their colleagues in supporting the voices of their students.

Dr. Claire Sanders, senior instructor and co-director of African-American and Africana studies. Photo courtesy of AddRan College of Liberal Arts.

“This is something that’s specific to TCU. We want students to have this experience with the faculty members on this campus, that’s what makes the TCU experience unique to TCU,” said Sanders.

The committee’s timeline hopes to have courses in DEI approved in the core by spring of 2019, followed by implementing and requiring these courses for first-year students by fall of 2020.