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UMD to Re-envision Diversity Curriculum

Gen Ed Requirement Seeks to Help Foster Inclusive, Respectful Campus Community

By Maryland Today Staff

Students walk outside by the Edward St. John building

A new undergraduate diversity curriculum will include classroom discussions of oppression, historical and systemic racism and instruction in civic engagement and resolving conflicts respectfully. A cross-campus working group will begin implementation this fall.

Photo by John T. Consoli

Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice, university President Darryll J. Pines, Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Diversity Education Task Force Co-chair William A. Cohen and African American Studies Professor and Diversity Education Task Force Co-chair Oscar Barbarin sent the following email to the campus community today:

On March 1, 2022, the University Senate overwhelmingly passed a proposal to modify the University of Maryland’s general education diversity requirement. This policy, which is part of a larger set of efforts aimed at fostering a more inclusive and respectful campus community, advances a presidential first-day initiative to re-envision UMD’s diversity curriculum.

As a result of the modifications to the diversity curriculum, undergraduate students who complete their general education requirements at the University of Maryland will engage in classroom discussions of power and oppression, especially historical and systemic racism. They will also gain practical skills in civic engagement, communicating effectively across differences and resolving conflicts respectfully. Implementation will be guided by a cross-campus working group, beginning in the fall and continuing over a period of years.

We believe these changes will have a powerful impact on our campus community by inspiring meaningful, nuanced discussions about challenging subjects. The final proposal, available on the Senate website, resulted from a comprehensive process of seeking broad input, acknowledging dissent, and balancing criticisms with suggested revisions. Feedback from faculty members, staff and students who attended listening sessions and meetings was invaluable in shaping this policy.

We are grateful to the Diversity Education Task Force (DETF) members, who began working in 2018 to recommend changes in UMD’s diversity education; to the members of the Senate Educational Affairs Committee (EAC); to the Senate staff; and to the Senate as a whole. We recognize in particular the contributions of Senate staff members Michele Reed and Reka Montfort, EAC chairs Madlen Simon and Ross Salawitch, former Senate chair Pamela Lanford, and DETF/EAC member Cynthia Stevens.

These policy changes support our strategic plan’s goal to reimagine learning by leading in the development of innovative and inclusive approaches for teaching and learning. The success of this and other diversity curriculum changes hinges on broad participation, and we invite and welcome the contributions of all campus community members.

Sincerely,

Jennifer King Rice
Senior Vice President and Provost

Darryll J. Pines
President

William A. Cohen
Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Co-chair, Diversity Education Task Force

Oscar Barbarin
Professor, African American Studies
Co-chair, Diversity Education Task Force

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.