Director’s Office: 353 Sutton Hall
Secretary’s Office and Mailing Address: 352 Sutton Hall
October 1, 1988
When the University Senate adopted the “Criteria for Liberal Studies Courses at IUP” last spring, we all committed ourselves to “include the perspectives and contributions of ethnic and racial minorities and of women, wherever appropriate to the subject matter.” We are writing to remind you of that commitment and to suggest some ways of beginning.
You will find enclosed two “models” for thinking about the inclusion of minorities and women in your courses. One is an adaptation, prepared by the Liberal Studies Committee, of an article by Marilyn Schuster and Susan Van Dyne. The second [this is available as Xerox copy only] is taken from an essay by geographer Janice Monk (whom some of you will undoubtedly recall meeting when she visited IUP last year). Although Monk makes an occasional geography-specific reference, you will quickly see that her five-point approach can be helpful to just about every discipline. And although her model refers only to the inclusion of women in the curriculum, you should have no difficulty using it as a way of thinking about the inclusion of minority contributions. We are also enclosing a copy of a questionnaire on “Evaluating Courses for Inclusion of New Scholarship on Women,” which is published by the Association of American Colleges; by extension, many of the same questions could be applied to the inclusion of scholarship on minorities.
This is an important part of our curricular revision, and every proposal for a Liberal Studies course should show evidence of progress in this area. At first glance, this may seem fairly easy in some areas like Sociology or History, and almost impossible in others. And it may indeed be that initial steps will be more obvious in some disciplines. But if we take seriously the University Senate’s criteria, then all of us who are teaching Liberal Studies courses must assume a share of the responsibility. We can all become more conscious of how we use language. We can all be more inclusive when we choose examples or write assignments. Word problems in mathematics or case studies in business can be constructed in inclusive, nonstereotyped ways. We can all be more sensitive to the visual representations in the books or media we select. We can all think about ways to include minorities and women when we bring outside speakers into the classroom or encourage students to attend campus events. And, all of our disciplines have a history and a theoretical foundation to which recent scholarship on women and minorities brings new questions and insights.
Charles Cashdollar and other members of the Liberal Studies Committee will be happy to answer questions about their expectations for course syllabi. Maureen McHugh and Al Novels are available to consult with departments or individuals about curriculum revisions, or to refer you to someone on campus who has some expertise in your field. Maureen’s office has a collection of resources which you are welcome to use; Al’s material will be arriving as the year goes on. Also, watch for our announcements about workshops and speakers. If you have ideas or experiences you are willing to share, let us know. We want to do what we can to help, and this will be easier if we know what you need and what you can offer to others.
By adopting our new criteria for Liberal Studies courses at IUP, we all committed ourselves to “include the perspectives and contributions of ethnic and racial minorities and of women, wherever appropriate to the subject matter.” Liberal Studies Committee members have been talking quite a bit about just what that involves. We think we now can better understand what can be accomplished, but we also can imagine the questions which will occur as individuals begin to rework old courses or invest new ones.
Actually, integration of new content into courses can occur at varying levels of sophistication, from the more simple to the more subtle. It can mean no more than inserting a few new names and examples; it can mean as much as a thoroughly reconstructed discipline. We would like to suggest a model which might help us think about those levels. The model is not our own; it is largely borrowed from a 1985 piece by Marilyn Schuster and Susan Van Dyne, although we have reworked their model substantially to fit our own needs. We do not suggest that this is the only way of imagining integration or that all disciplines will fit into its stages with equal ease. But the model does have the virtue of being reasonably straightforward, and it points up what we take to be two fundamental notions: that integration may take place at increasingly complex levels, and that the higher levels need to be preceded by and built upon advances at the lower levels.
Citation: Marilyn Schuster and Susan Van Dyne, Women’s Place in the Academy: Transforming the Liberal Arts Curriculum. 1985.
Prepared by IUP Liberal Studies Committee, 1988.