Perspectives on Diversity Requirement

Liberal education today must include preparation for effective citizenship in a diverse multicultural society and in a pluralistic global setting. The Perspectives on Diversity Requirement encourages students to reflect on identity formation and its place in social, global and historical contexts, as well as to develop awareness of their own and others' worldviews. To achieve these ends, students satisfy the requirement in three areas:

  1. Domestic Students must complete one course (a minimum of three semester hours) with a United States focus that meets the criteria below.
  2. International Students must complete one course (a minimum of three semester hours) with a focus outside of the United States, that meets the criteria below.
  3. Language Students must complete two basic courses (a minimum of 10 semester hours) or demonstrate equivalent competency by examination in a designated second language.

Domestic Diversity — We exist within a history of systemic cultural, political and economic oppression and privilege. In the Domestic Diversity portion of the requirement, students examine the ways groups define themselves and have been defined within this context. The groups addressed in this requirement are usually identified in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or ethnicity. Courses may occasionally address other socially constructed categories that have been used to name and control, and for which there are significant bodies of scholarship.

Courses with a Domestic Diversity designation meet three or more of these criteria:

  • Address the ways marginalized groups define and express themselves, and the contexts in which these definitions are constructed.
  • Examine the ways in which definition is an act of power.
  • Discuss how such global forces as imperialism, globalization and socialism have shaped ideas, groups, institutions and/or the natural environment.
  • Explore theories of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity or other socially constructed categories.
  • Place the above categories in historical or contemporary contexts.

International Diversity — Learning to see through the eyes of other peoples and cultures is essential to becoming a citizen of the world. In the International Diversity portion of the requirement, students study cultures outside of the United States, examining these cultures' self-definitions and their interaction with external forces. This invites an expanded worldview and greater understanding of cultural perspective.

Courses with an International Diversity designation meet three or more of the following criteria:

  • Address the self-definition and self- expression of particular cultures.
  • Use comparative analysis of different cultural perspectives.
  • Study countries or cultures using theories of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity or other socially constructed categories.
  • Discuss how such global forces as imperialism, globalization and socialism have shaped ideas, groups, institutions and/or the natural environment.
  • Examine the concepts used to interpret and compare cultures.
  • Study the past or present interactions of groups or cultures within their political, economic, ideological or natural contexts.

Language — Language is at the heart of the human experience. Studying languages in their cultural contexts helps us to develop greater awareness of ourselves, of other cultures and of our relationships to those cultures. A knowledge of other languages and other cultures is also a powerful key to successful communication: knowing how, when and why to say what to whom. Furthermore, studying languages opens connections to additional bodies of knowledge in the arts, social sciences, natural sciences and domains outside our present frames of reference. Through comparing and contrasting languages and cultures, we develop greater insight into our own languages and cultures and realize that there are multiple ways of viewing the world. Participation in multilingual communities in a variety of contexts and in culturally appropriate ways leads to fuller engagement in the global community.

To fulfill the Language Component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, students must:

  • complete one year of one language while at Earlham
    OR
  • demonstrate language proficiency as judged by the Department of Languages and Literatures.

Students who take a language placement examination and/or who are recommended by the Department for a second semester of a language course will satisfy the Language Requirement by taking that course.

Students who place beyond the point at which the College requires work in a second language do not receive a reduction in the number of credits needed for graduation nor do they earn any credits on their transcript.

For students whose first language is something other than English: Students who propose to use English as their second language will validate their proficiency level in English via either the TOEFL exam, the SAT Reasoning Test or a reasonable equivalent. 

Notes about the Requirement

  • Courses that address both United States and international issues may count for either the Domestic or the International part of the Diversity Requirement, depending on the focus of the course, or, when focus is equally weighted, on the preference of the faculty member. A single course may not fulfill both the Domestic and International parts of the requirement.
  • Although Domestic or International courses must ordinarily provide a minimum of three semester hours, course credit through off-campus programs may be more flexible. For example, two courses meeting appropriate criteria and together providing a minimum of three semester hours may satisfy one part of the Diversity Requirement.
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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
47374-4095
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