University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst: General Education

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Teaching & Advising

 

Social and Cultural Diversity

Educated individuals should address the complex ways in which societies and cultures differ from one another and be guided by attitudes which value cultural differences. Their perspectives on and communication with people of different cultures, both within their own society and in other societies, should emanate from an understanding of cultural diversity rather than from applying ethnocentric stereotypes.

There are two designations in this curriculum area: G (Diversity: Global) and U (Diversity: United States). Faculty may create a Gen Ed course in either of these designations. A faculty member may additionally design a Diversity course that also fulfills the [Social World] requirement, but is not required to do so. Courses created in such a manner would have a Social World and Social and Cultural Diversity designation: ALG, ALU, ATG, ATU, HSG, HSU, SBG, SBU. Finally, faculty may design a Diversity course that also fulfills the [Interdisciplinary] requirement; such courses would have a designation IG, IU, SIG, or SIU. 

All Diversity courses should emphasize the need for educated citizens to understand that different cultures and societies provide unique contexts for human experience, analyze and appreciate the ways in which norms and values differ across cultures and societies, and encourage pluralistic perspectives.

Courses in this curriculum area should reach beyond the perspectives of mainstream American culture and the Western tradition. They may focus on the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East; the descendants of those peoples living in North America; other minorities in Western industrial societies; and Native Americans. Since a sensitivity to social and cultural diversity is advanced by an understanding of the dynamics of power in modern societies, courses that focus on the differential life experiences of women outside the mainstream of American culture, minorities outside the mainstream of American culture, and the poor also come within the scope of this designation.

Diversity: Global (G designation)

Courses with this designation should accomplish the following, when appropriate:

  • Create awareness of the various dimensions of human identity, including but not limited to issues of race and ethnicity, social class, gender, age, language, religion, sexual orientation, disability and nationality
  • Critically analyze one’s own culture and place it in comparative perspective to other cultures
  • Explore pluralistic perspectives and diverse ways of knowing, thinking, and reasoning in populations and cultures
  • Examine the ways in which cultures define themselves and have been defined within a world context
  • Discuss how global forces have shaped and are shaping ideas, practices, organizations, and the world
  • Integrate understanding of peoples and cultures to prepare students to live and work in a diverse society and world

Diversity: United States (U designation)

Courses with this designation should accomplish the following, when appropriate:

Create awareness of the various dimensions of human identity, including but not limited to issues of race and ethnicity, social class, gender, age, language, religion, sexual orientation, disability and nationality

  • Examine the ways in which diverse cultures, communities, histories, and peoples define and express themselves in US society
  • Discuss how historical, social, political, and/or economic forces have shaped US diversity and the context for equality and inequality
  • Explore differences in human experiences, perspectives, and expression in US society
  • Examine theories, concepts, and issues that have influenced the histories and traditions of the United States

This information derives from Faculty Senate Special Report 85-024A and 85-024B and Forms LG and LU.

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