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Multi-Cultural Studies

To ensure that students learn of diversity in the human condition and become acquainted with methods of inquiry for understanding and respecting cultural differences, in 1991 the Oberlin College faculty adopted a cultural diversity requirement for the B.A. degree. The requirement is based on the belief that well-educated persons in today's interdependent world should study and analyze cultures other than their own. By observing distinctions in class, ethnicity, gender, language, race, religion, and sexual orientation, students can comprehend the differences that have historically set social groups apart from one another, and develop a greater capacity for intellectual open-mindedness and tolerance.

By establishing the areas of course work described below, the faculty recognizes the different approaches to cultural diversity. Some courses provide appreciation of specific cultures and societies, whether non-Western or Western, through the study of language, history, or thought. Others stress cross-cultural approaches in understanding cultural differences.

The cultural diversity requirement is not intended to promote the subordination of the Western tradition to other traditions. Rather, it is founded on the belief that breadth in a liberal arts education involves exposure not only to the three divisions of higher learning (the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences), but also to cross-cultural and multicultural analysis. The faculty views the cultural diversity requirement as an expression of the College's long-standing commitment to a genuinely pluralistic community of scholars.

Cultural Diversity Requirement. All students, including transfer students, double-degree students, and students changing divisions from Conservatory to College, are subject to the cultural diversity requirement. The Multicultural Studies Committee administers the requirement.

To satisfy the requirement, students must earn at least nine credit hours in courses with the CD (cultural diversity) designation. The nine credit hours must be earned in at least two different departments or programs. These courses may count simultaneously toward the nine hours required in each division.

The categories of courses designated as CD include the following:

1. Courses whose primary emphasis is on cultures whose origins lie outside the Western tradition (including various minority cultures in the United States);

or

2. Courses whose primary emphasis is on methods of analyzing and interpreting cultural differences (e.g., differences of language, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and class);

or

3. Courses whose primary emphasis is on cultural pluralism within the Western tradition.

Additionally, all courses taught in a language other than English are designated CD.

The many courses designated CD offer students considerable breadth in the study of cultural diversity. In all, this catalog contains several hundred CD courses representing more than twenty departments and programs.

 

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