Guidelines for Designing Courses


At CC our educational philosophy rests on the principle that learning to work across differences of cultural background, experience, and affinity is a process essential to intellectual growth and life-long learning. CC encourages courses and projects that go beyond simply celebrating our diversity. We need as well to question where our differences come from, how they constantly change, and how they get invented and represented through social and historical practices. Such a dynamic analysis of diversity may unsettle received ideas in various disciplines of the arts, sciences, and humanities, as well as in the conduct of our professions. This challenge can enrich academic scholarship, broaden student horizons, expand pedagogical boundaries, and open the university to community perspectives. Diversity inevitably means disagreement, conflict, and the struggle to create community out of real differences. Dialogue and inquiry can prosper by working through the difficulty of differences rather than ignoring or repressing them. Vital to this process is critical self-reflection, the constant questioning of one’s own assumptions.

When we speak of “cross-cultural understanding,” then, it always presumes examination of one’s own involvement in particular socio-cultural processes, rather than making “the other” the only focus of study. Cross-cultural understanding should be a reciprocal activity, including processes of listening and reflection, inquiry and dialogue, fact-finding and reassessment. Cross-cultural understanding can also mean gaining a substantial knowledge of diverse cultural traditions and acquiring competence in learning from people whose ancestry and affinities differ from one’s own. The program especially welcomes courses and projects that address some of the following criteria and demonstrate this clearly in sample syllabi submitted for approval:

  1. equip students with the cross-cultural understanding necessary to respond constructively to the pluralistic character of American society;

  2. increase students' capacity to value the cultural backgrounds and contributions of a nation’s historically marginalized groups, particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Latino/a Americans, and Asian Americans;

  3. explore perspectives, world views, methodologies, artistic traditions, and philosophic constructs that such group(s) use to describe, explain, and evaluate its/their life experiences;

  4. analyze critically the historical and social construction of “race” and “ethnicity,” their relation to “white privilege,” and their impact on various dimensions of human life, including how such constructions create systematic inequalities between the dominant and the marginalized;

  5. facilitate an understanding of what it means to live in a society that may display hostility to the individual on the basis of stereotypes of fundamental, frequently unalterable, characteristics of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or national origin;

  6. examine methods for identifying examples of inequality or covert discrimination that can be documented yet are rarely acknowledged by those not negatively affected;

  7. teach concepts and methods that enhance and extend the student's ability to analyze the transnational and transcultural dimensions of human life.