Infusing a Multicultural Perspective into Higher Education Curricula

By Oltjenbruns, Kevin; Love, Cathleen T. | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Infusing a Multicultural Perspective into Higher Education Curricula

Oltjenbruns, Kevin, Love, Cathleen T., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Abstract: The Multicultural Infusion Project at Colorado State University provides professional development experiences for faculty to assist them in making changes in content and pedagogy so courses are more inclusive of all students. The project has involved more than 120 faculty participants and has been ongoing for the past seven years. Various outcomes related to both students and faculty are reported.

The changing demographics of the United States pose a challenge to all who teach in higher education. Students will be called upon to provide support to individuals and families, create products, and develop educational programs that serve the needs of a broad spectrum of individuals with widely different backgrounds. All students must be sensitive to issues of diversity that will affect their success as professionals in a given field.

Faculty must also ensure that students with minority backgrounds feel comfortable in our classrooms by including diverse perspectives, as appropriate to course content, in all facets of the class (e.g., lectures, discussions, readings, assignments). Earlier beliefs about effective teaching-learning interactions have often failed to provide a strong pedagogical foundation from which to teach persons who have divergent learning styles.

Although the need to equip students with a multicultural perspective is immediate and urgent, most faculty members and administrators in higher education are unprepared for the task. By and large, most faculty were educated in strikingly homogeneous college environments.

The curricula they studied (and therefore use as a basis for their own teaching) often reflect this homogeneity. Thus, faculty and administrators must develop new skills and expand their knowledge bases to meet the learning needs of our student population.

While supplementing their knowledge about various aspects of diversity, faculty also need to critically analyze their own thoughts, beliefs, priorities, and values related to race, ethnicity, and other human differences. Distorted perceptions and beliefs are often so imbedded in societal norms and roles that they may sometimes become institutionalized and remain unquestioned (Griggs, 1988). Faculty who are aware of their own misperceptions and distortions can, in turn, better challenge students to examine their biases. The process aids students in developing new attitudes and behaviors to apply to their learning and social lives.

Overview of Infusion Project

Just as universities facilitate professional development opportunities with the goal of enhancing faculty's research and grant-writing skills, so should they provide professional support if curriculum transformation is to be a realistic outcome. Faculty must be provided the time and resources to explore their professional needs in this area; to integrate newly acquired knowledge, skills, and insights about themselves and others with their own professional preparation; and to make content-appropriate course revisions.

Faculty often address multicultural issues by adding a single session on diversity, by showing a movie, or by inviting a panel of individuals from various backgrounds to discuss a specific topical area. Focusing on diversity during a single class period results in students' believing that diversity is an outlier rather than recognizing it as an integral part of human existence. Instead of "spotlighting diversity" in our classrooms, the goal of infusing a course with a multicultural perspective involves weaving various concepts related to diversity into the very fabric of the course-through choice of textbook or supplementary reading, through expanded information presented during class, through case studies or examples, and through particular learning activities and assignments. To develop skills and knowledge needed to infuse a course with diversity is complicated and challenging. This article discusses a model that has been used successfully at Colorado State University in preparing faculty to accomplish this important goal.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Infusing a Multicultural Perspective into Higher Education Curricula


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?