HIED 66671: Administration of Multiculturalism & Diversity in Higher Education

Syllabus Description:

This graduate seminar focuses on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex/gender, sexuality, disability and other identity differences in the U.S. higher education. Diversity—a collective label for the plurality of our identities—is discussed from a historical perspective, providing a context for contemporary experiences described by and about students, staff, faculty, and administrators. In this course, we examine contemporary issues related to access, participation, climate, curriculum, policy, outcomes, and benefits. The course is designed to introduce students to theories, concepts, policies, controversies, challenges and possibilities related to gender, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, socio-economic, ability, and religious differences among students, faculty, administrators, and other employees in postsecondary settings. The successful student in this course will be able to describe and analyze historical and contemporary issues related to diversity and equity, as well as discuss current trends and challenges in educational research, theory, policy, and practice.

The aim of this course, and its identification as a core course in the program, is to prepare graduates to work in an increasingly pluralistic society and to have multicultural competence for engaging with diverse groups. The goal of multicultural competence seems unarguable; students should have awareness (of self and the impact it has on others), knowledge (of diverse cultures and groups), and skills (ability to openly discuss differences). However, in this course, we will draw upon a critical perspective in our readings and discussion in order to interrogate our (taken-for-granted) assumptions about the ‗goodness‘ of multicultural competence that might leave us falling short in enacting a commitment to social justice or critical consciousness? How might the development of multicultural competencies serve to maintain the status quo more than inspire creative thinking about the root of social problems? These questions and more will be investigated in this course.


It is important for student personnel to understand that not all students feel welcome in the same way at higher education institutions in the United States. Due to America’s history of slavery, racism, ethnic segregation, and economic inequality, not all students arrive for freshman orientation with adequate levels of confidence, preparation, finance, or support they will need in order to succeed in higher education. In this class, I learned more about the history and social construction of disenfranchised groups in contemporary America and about different strategies to promote engagement in higher education among diverse student groups. I also explored more my own prejudices and worked on opening my mind and compassion to all groups.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    • Describe key concepts and salient theoretical perspectives on oppression, difference and identities in U.S. society with particular attention to race, ethnicity, social class, sex/gender, sexuality, religion, and disability;

    • Understand how power and privilege shape these perspectives;

    • Articulate and think critically about how the historical and contemporary socio-cultural context can influence various aspects of U.S. higher education including access, structure, funding, curriculum, leadership, policy, and student experiences;

    • Describe how one‘s own identity formation has shaped her/his higher education experiences and continues to influence one‘s professional practice in educational leadership;

    • Analyze problems related to difference and diversity, and complicate (taken-for-granted) assumptions about the given-ness of these problems;

    • Enact leadership for social change regarding multicultural and diversity issues; and

    • Value one‘s acquired knowledge and understand how to continue to learn about and engage with the subject.

Key Assignments:

Taking Action Project – Over the course of the semester, each of us was encouraged to examine the experience of one group of traditionally underrepresented students in higher education at one institution and take a stand within the institution to make the experience of students better. I chose to examine the experience of Muslim students at the University of Mount Union. Specifically, I worked to improve non-Muslim students’ awareness of Islam at Mount Union in light of the Islamophobic climate in the United States.