Diversity Project a Success, Sociologists' Group Says

Article excerpt

An eight-year project designed to encourage minority participation and "foster diversity" in higher education largely succeeded, according to Promoting Diversity and Excellence in Higher Education through Department Change, a report issued by the American Sociological Association in August. The Minority Opportunities through School Transformation (MOST) program, launched by the group in 1994, worked through academic departments rather than with individual students or entire institutions. Departments of sociology at eleven institutions participated in the project by reshaping the undergraduate curriculum to prepare students better for graduate-level work and to emphasize diversity issues, strengthening research training and mentoring, attempting to create departmental climates that were "sensitive to issues of diversity and multiculturalism," and taking steps to increase the number of minority students in the academic pipeline.

Their efforts were successful in every area, according to the report. In the penultimate year of the project, departments reported that more than half of their course offerings explicitly dealt with diversity, compared to one quarter in the 1993-94 academic year, the last year before the project started. …