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Brown University Infused Diversity And Inclusion Into Hundreds Of Courses
PROVIDENCE, RI - APRIL 25: Sayles Hall on the campus of Brown University in Providence, RI is pictured on April 25, 2019.
Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Brown University has infused diversity and inclusion into hundreds of courses across nearly 40 departments, according to an email from the university’s president. 

Brown President Christina Paxson sent an email to faculty and students touting the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) and new classes on social justice. Paxson claimed that the social justice courses — which were introduced in the 2018-19 school year — have reached a majority of the students at Brown. In 2018-19 alone, there were 211 DIAP courses offered across 37 different departments. 

As part of its continuing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Brown announced a slew of new DIAP classes, including an upcoming summer class which infuses social justice curriculum into public health curriculum. The course is titled, “We’re All Breathing the Same Air: How Power and Privilege Impact Public Health.”

The description claims that the class is suited for students who “care about social justice and are ready to deepen their understanding of how systems of privilege and oppression impact global health.” 

The course is described as an intersection between social justice and public health. Students will examine how triggers such as “implicit bias” and “microaggressions” contribute to public health. 

“Systems of power and privilege impact us all. Join us in taking a social scientist’s lens to the ever-woven threats of racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, and classism to understand their massive impact on global health and individual implicit biases,” the course description reads. “A public health perspective will be applied to lessons about implicit bias, discrimination, microaggressions, minority stress, cultural humility, and much more.” 

Students will also focus on acquiring “critical knowledge about how vulnerable and marginalized populations are negatively impacted by both systemic oppression and unconscious bias.” 

The description emphasizes the importance of “cultural humility” in the classroom. Cultural humility is described as “an attitude and way of being in and responding to the world that encourages individuals to not elevate their own world view over others.” It is unlikely that “cultural humility” would apply to those who hold a conservative worldview. 

Though the course is about diversity and inclusion, it is being taught by two white women. The class will be led by research fellows Kelsey Kangos and Michelle Haikalis.

Brown’s DIAP is expanding beyond the classroom and into the admissions process as well. In the diversity plan, the Office of Admissions announced that it would reserve half of the school’s enrollment for black applicants only. 

“The Office of College Admissions will implement a plan to increase the representation of Black/African American applicants in the Early Decision and Regular Decision pools, and increase the undergraduate Regular Decision yield for Black/African American identified students to 50% of the enrolled class.”

The DIAP also aims to help “Historically Underrepresented Groups,” also known as “HUGs,” though it does not include people of Asian or Middle Eastern descent. According to Brown, HUGs are defined as “African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.” 

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