$100,000 Grant Will Help WSU Develop Diversity Courses

PULLMAN, Wash. — A new $100,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
will help Washington State University faculty develop or modify some 50 courses to meet the
American diversity requirement that goes into effect next year.
Undergraduate students entering WSU starting in the fall of 2000 will be required to
complete one three-credit course that covers historical and contemporary issues in American
diversity. The Faculty Senate approved this new General Education requirement in 1998 at the
urging of WSU students.
Students also explore ethnic and cultural diversity in the required world civilizations courses
and in the course they choose to meet the intercultural studies requirement.
Richard Law, director of General Education, said the new course development project aims to
prepare graduates for life in a pluralistic society, while also helping make WSU friendlier and
more attractive to students of color.
“A key concept of this project is integrating academic and non-academic elements of the
university in a common endeavor,” he said. The aim is to have the curriculum work be as
inclusive as possible, bringing together faculty, students, staff, and campus and community
groups around issues of common concern.
“During this first year, we will emphasize needs assessment, community building and faculty
development,” Law said. “We will hold workshops, invite consultants to campus and hold
forums on the issues.”
Law co-authored the grant proposal with Jane Sherman, associate vice provost for academic
affairs, who oversees the project. Law and Mary Wack, senior fellow for WSU’s Center for
Teaching and Learning, will coordinate the project. Jean Henscheid, former associate director of
the Student Advising and Learning Center, also worked on the grant proposal.
According to Sherman, the funding from the Hewlett Pluralism and Unity program will
provide release time for 11 faculty members to develop seven intermediate and four capstone
courses, funding for new seminars based on the Freshman Seminars model, consultants and
summer workshops for faculty, plus project assessment.
WSU matching funds will pay for modification of existing courses, diversity mini-grants, and
summer training for faculty teaching the world civilizations and English composition classes to
which the diversity seminars will be linked, she said.
WSU has a tradition of a faculty learning community that developed around the world
civilizations core courses over the past decade, Law said. The university also has long
experience in training student peer facilitators for seminar programs. Both are important to this
new project.
Law said WSU has already made major strides in introducing diversity into the curriculum.
“Robert Steele, a consultant to the Ford Foundation’s Diversity Connections project, placed
WSU among the top institutions in the country in including diversity in its General Education
and major curricula,” Law said.