FEBRUARY 1994 Supersedes all previous printings
MULTICULTURAL STUDIES (MCS-G, MCS-D) (Core Studies)
Multicultural Studies: The requirement consists of two parts: one course and one component, intended to develop understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity. The course develops understanding of cultures outside the western tradition. The component develops understanding of cultural diversity within U.S. society, with a focus on race, ethnicity or gender.
Comment on the Description:
Those working in the area of race, ethnicity and gender recognize that all three of these categories are significant primarily as social categories or constructions, rather than as biological or physical categories.
A. Global Course (MCS-G):
- Multicultural Studies introduce students to non-Western traditions and societies.
- Cultural studies focus on patterned systems of belief and behavior that may be expressed broadly in world views, values, and social institutions, and more specifically, for example, in notions of time and space, custom, and gesture. Courses in Multicultural Studies should, therefore, treat one or more significant aspects of a society or societies in their cultural and intercultural context.
Comments: (Numbers correlate to numbered guidelines)
l. The General Education Committee acknowledges that many "non-Western" areas have been heavily influenced by Western culture, and that some cultural expressions -- say, Latin American literature -- might be interpreted as Western. We will rely on the instructor's course proposal to help us determine if a course should count for Multicultural Studies credit.
Although the description of the Multicultural Studies requirement includes Russian in its enumeration of cultures outside the Western tradition, it may be argued that Russian culture is misplaced and indeed reflects the European tradition. Therefore, courses on Russian culture and on the republics of the former Soviet Union may count as Historical Studies in Western Culture or Multicultural Studies, depending on the principal emphasis of the course.
Courses on African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans are not appropriate for Multicultural Studies course credit but are appropriate for the multicultural component.
2. Courses in a variety of disciplines may satisfy this requirement: for example, literature (in translation or in the original language), fine arts, history, philosophy, religion, behavioral sciences, as well as cultural area studies (Asian Studies, Hispanic Studies, African Studies, etc.). To fulfill the general education requirement in Multicultural Studies, a literature course, for example, might focus on the literature of a particular culture, noting, as appropriate, the influence of the culture on the literature, and vice versa.
Because these courses are multicultural, they are comparative in nature and involve to a greater or lesser extent comparison with other cultures.
B. Domestic Component (MCS-D):
- The Multicultural Studies component focuses on the diversity of culture and experience in U.S. society which grows out of racial, gender, or ethnic differences. Such diversity is best illustrated by components which explore the way in which the group(s) considered have an experience and culture which are substantially different from that of the dominant groups in U.S. society.
- The component explores social experiences and cultural traditions, represented in patterned systems of belief, behavior, and expression. Such patterns may be expressed broadly in world views, values, social institutions, notions of time and space, customs, and gestures.
- The component must be an integrated, recurrent, substantial part of the course.
Comments: (Numbers correlate to numbered guidelines)
1. Other GEC requirements introduce students to the dominant cultural traditions of Euro-American society; this requirement asks students to learn that Americans have diverse experiences and cultural traditions, and to understand something of the cultural traditions and experiences (past or present) of those people who, while often marginalized by the dominant society, have significantly contributed to this diversity. In that spirit, those groups whose experiences best increase our understanding of diversity are Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women. The experience of ethnic groups like Irish Americans and Jewish Americans, whose cultural traditions differ(ed) significantly from those of the dominant British-American society to which they came and whose inclusion in American society was problematic for so long, would probably also count for this component. This list is not exhaustive, and GEC will rely on course proposals to determine when components based on the traditions and experiences of other groups in U.S. society should count for this requirement.
2. Components of courses in a variety of disciplines may satisfy this requirement: for example, literature, fine arts, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, economics, psychology, political science, social work, and biology, as well as interdisciplinary cultural studies. To fulfill the general education requirement in Multicultural Studies, a sociology course might, for example, include a component on the social organization of traditional Native American communities; a literature course might include a component on African American dramas and their social context; a biology course might include a component on women's health issues. Courses which examine only non-cultural aspects of a group (such as the biology of sickle cell anemia among Blacks, without reference to broader cultural and social implications) would usually not be appropriate to meet this requirement.3. The Multicultural Studies component should be an essential and natural part of the course, not an add-on separate from other course materials or peripheral to the principal course objectives.