A&S Diversity Intensive Initiative

Diversity Intensive Course Rationale and Requirement

The College of Arts and Science recognizes that an awareness and understanding of diverse human experience is essential to a liberal arts education.  By exposing students to diversity in education, we help them to contribute to (and compete in) today’s increasingly diverse, global society. A diversity requirement will prepare our students to (1) critically analyze diverse human experience, which is one of A&S’s “Core Learning Objectives” for all undergraduates; (2) cultivate insight and respect for cultural and intellectual pluralism; (3) understand the histories and experiences of people across identities such as race, ethnicity, social class, sexuality, ability, gender, and religion; (4) focus scholarly inquiry on knowledge that has been traditionally excluded or under-examined across the curriculum; (5) promote critical thinking skills that foster perspective-taking, enabling students to explore perspectives and worlds different than their own; and (6) communicate effectively in diverse and global environments. On March 14, 2016 the College of Arts & Science faculty approved “The Choice Model for a Diversity Requirement: A Proposal by the Arts and Science Diversity Committee,” which outlined the rationale, benefits, goals, objectives, and guidelines for implementing a Diversity Intensive (DI) Curriculum. Importantly, through its diversity intensive curriculum, the College of Arts and Science enhances the diversity and inclusion efforts through its focus on one of the four areas of development in the UM Strategic Plan for Inclusion, education and scholarship.

Additionally, DI courses that also fulfill Writing Intensive (WI) and Honors credit may be used to meet the DI requirement. Specifically, courses that are DI designated may simultaneously meet WI and/or Honors credit, if approved as such in each category.

A&S’s Diversity Intensive Requirement — As of Fall 2017 all students with a major in the College of Arts and Science are required to take 3 credit hours from courses within our undergraduate curriculum that will be designated “DI” for Diversity Intensive. DI courses can be fulfilled within courses counted in the Distribution Requirement in the current General Education Architecture and thus would not require any additional credit hours for any degree. Additionally, DI courses that also fulfill Writing Intensive (WI) and Honor’s credit may be used to meet DI requirement. Specifically, courses that are DI designated may simultaneously meet WI and/or Honor’s credit, if approved as such in each category.

Benefits of Diversity Intensive Courses

DI courses offer a student-centered approach to the diversity requirement, since students will be able to choose from among a wide range of existing courses to fulfill this requirement. By providing students with a variety of DI offerings, we enable them to have more control over their educational process and engage with diversity and inclusion in intentional ways. Importantly, DI courses build on existing strengths in the College of Arts and Science while also furthering our teaching mission. A&S has a wide variety of departments that offer diversity-related courses including Anthropology, Art, Art History and Archeology, Black Studies, Classical Humanities, Communication, Economics, English, Geography, German and Russian Studies, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychological Sciences, Religious Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures, Sociology, Theatre, and Women’s and Gender Studies.  These courses advance the college’s existing commitment to the educational value of diversity, by enhancing and deepening student learning of diverse experiences. As such, DI courses benefit students, as they provide an important step forward in our College’s efforts to build a more intellectually and culturally inclusive college and campus community.

Diversity Intensive Goals and Objectives

Achieve inclusive excellence in education and scholarship by providing courses that:

  • Educate students about human diversity and socially constructed differences, focusing on marginalized social groups and social inequalities locally, nationally, and/or internationally; 
  • Explore at least one form of social inequality, broadly defined to include identities such as race, class, genders, sexualities, age, ethnicities, disabilities, geographical disparities, resource disparities, indigenous communities, and others; 
  • Encourage perspective taking, or the ability to think critically and describe and explain complex worldviews, issues, and social movements from multiple perspectives;
  • Enable students to understand the historical precursors of contemporary social inequalities, power structures, and marginalization;
  • Prepare students to critically analyze cultural myths and stereotypes about marginalized groups through an in-depth exposure to inter- and multi-disciplinary studies in other cultures, communities, and experiences; 
  • Promote a heightened awareness of cultural diversity as a source of expression, creativity, and exchange through a study of arts and cultures that have been traditionally excluded or marginalized across the curriculum. For example, in the United States, art and culture have been traditionally studied from Western European, predominately wealthy or privileged class perspectives. DI courses are intended to remedy this limited view by exposing students to a more expansive range of cultures and modes of being (e.g. gender, race, class, ability, nationality, sexual orientation, religions, etc.) from literature, visual arts, cinema and media.
  • Provide students with competencies, skills, and basic research tools necessary to learn how to more effectively and reasonably communicate and work with people of varied backgrounds, points of view, and cultures.

The Diversity Requirement in A&S

  1. All Arts and Science majors who started college fall 2017 or later are required to take 3 credit hours designated as “DI” for Diversity Intensive.
  2. The DI course requirement can be fulfilled within courses counted in the MU Distribution of Content Requirement in the current General Education Architecture (GEA) and therefore does not require any additional credit hours for any Arts and Science degree.
  3. DI courses count toward distribution requirements in Behavioral Science, Biological Science, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Social Sciences.
  4. DI courses that are also Writing Intensive (WI) and/or Honor’s (H) count as satisfying both requirements. Specifically, WI and Honors courses can be DI designated too.
  5. Students are encouraged to fulfill the A & S Diversity Requirement as soon as feasible, preferably in first 3 semesters on campus—2 semesters for transfer students.
  6. Students who wish to receive DI credit for a course taken at another institution should submit a request to the DI Curriculum Committee for evaluation of equivalency to: muasdiversity@missouri.edu.
  7. In the spirit of the diversity requirement, students are encouraged to select a course that will broaden their education. It is the student’s responsibility to select a course to achieve this goal.
  8. A grade of C- or better is required in the Diversity Intensive course in order to meet the College of Arts and Science DI Requirements.

View the Diversity Intensive Guidelines and the General Education Requirements.