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Extending Multicultural Education into Our Colleges and Universities Latifah Muhammad EDCI 6300 – Summer 2007 Tennessee State University Introduction

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extending multicultural education into our colleges and universities

Extending Multicultural Education into Our Colleges and Universities

Latifah Muhammad

EDCI 6300 – Summer 2007

Tennessee State University

  • Multicultural education has not be an overall area of focus on many college campuses. Also, it is not a required in the general education program in man of our colleges and universities.
  • Many institutions offer multicultural education as part of their teacher education curriculum in order to prepare teachers for the primary and secondary education environment. Thus, unless college students are Education or Teacher Education majors, students are not required to take a course in multicultural education.
  • The college campus is an environment “rich” in diversity – race, language, cultural traditions, and religious beliefs. Thus, making it the most ideal place and opportunity for students to immerse themselves in learning and understanding differences that surround them everyday.
  • Limited research and discussion has been conducted on the importance and impact of campus-wide multicultural education, specifically religion. Although recent studies have suggested that religion in higher education has been steadily declined in importance due to the process of secularization through intellectual and educational developments.

(Cherry, DeBerg, and Porterfield, 2001).

  • There has been research conducted countering theories of secularization. This research has shed light on important developments in how the new generation of college students view, explore, and experience religion and diversity.
  • The impact of the college experience on the social and moral development of our students can be greatly enhanced through exposure and constructive understanding of cultural diversity.
  • This is critical at this stage of student development as our colleges and universities shape and mold the future leaders and educators of our ever expanding culturally diverse American society.
emerging adulthood
Emerging Adulthood
  • According to Arnett (2000), the ages between 18 and 25 make up a new, distinct developmental period – the “Emerging Adult.” This period is characterized by heightened risk-taking behavior and self exploration of numerous domains, including one’s spirituality (Arnett, 2000).
  • It is within this age range that many “emerging adults” are enrolled in our colleges and universities. Thus, students at this developmental stage are constantly surrounded by and exposed to an environment teeming with vastly diverse peoples, cultures, and beliefs;
  • The “campus” serves as a “force” that demands student inquiry of self (self-exploration) and others in the context of diversity.
  • It is at this point in their lives when individuals place greater importance on thinking critically about spiritual issues rather than accept an existing dogma in its entirety (Barry and Nelson, 2005).
spirituality vs religion
Spirituality vs. Religion
  • Qualitative study conducted at 4 universities (large public, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and a HBCU)
  • The students interviewed preferred using the words “spiritual” and “spirituality” instead of “religious” and “religion.”
  • understood religion to mean “institutions or organizations” and spirituality to mean “a personal experience of God or ultimate values.”
  • Spiritual and spirituality connoted a quest, a journey, something not yet completed, whereas religion and religious signified something completed, fixed, handed down.
  • Students could be characterized asspiritual seekers rather than religious dwellers.
  • The students construct their spirituality without much regard to the boundaries dividing religious denominations, traditions, or organizations.

(Cherry, DeBerg, and Porterfield, 2001)

getting to the core what s next
Getting to the Core: What’s Next?
  • Revisit our institutions’ “general education” core
  • Multicultural education course(s) incorporated into the core, addressing race, religion, sexuality, and other issues of difference that students face on our campuses everyday.
  • “Introduction to Multicultural Education and Cultural Diversity”
  • Single-issue and/or general overview courses
  • Open discussion forum vs. seminar-style
    • An open discussion format is preferable because it allows students and faculty to establish a comfort level that will allow for more open and fluid discussion, listening, and understanding the views and experiences of others without feeling they may be judged, chastized, or made to feel inferior.
related website resource
Related Website Resource
  • http://www.diversityweb.org/
    • This site is designed to provide a comprehensive compendium of campus practices and resources for campus practitioners seeking to place diversity at the center of the academy's educational and societal mission. The site is supported by The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU). It is a grear resource for college and university faculty and administrators.
  • Religion has not lessened in significance or relevance in the lives of our young adults. It has evolved and been redefined based on the changes many students have experienced in our multicultural society, specifically on our campuses.
  • Responsibility of educators to provide students with structure and accessibility to resources to promote student comfort in thinking openly and critically about their spirituality and other issues of difference and diversity.
  • Arnett, J.J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: a theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychology. 55, pp 469(12).
  • Barry, Carolyn McNamara, and Nelson, Larry J. (June 2005). The role of religion in the transition to adulthood for young emerging adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 34.3, p245 (11).
  • Carpenter, Lucas. (April 2007). Religion and the liberal arts education. The Humanist. 67, p25(4).
  • Cherry, Conrad, DeBerg, Betty, and Porterfield, Amanda. (Fall 2001). Religion on campus. Liberal Education. 87, p6(8).
  • Copeland, Jennifer E. (February 2002). The religious option: what students crave. Christian Century. 24, p36(4).
  • Estanck, Sandra. (June 2006). Redefining spirituality: a new discourse. College Student Journal. 40, p270(12).
  • Uecker, Jeremy, Regnerus, Mark D., and Vaaler, Maragret L. (June 2007). Losing my religion: the social sources of religious decline in early adulthood. Social Forces. 85.4, p1667(26).