Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
July 26, 1996

Project Aware: Proposals target diversity requirement

by Anne Dolan
Iowa State's adoption this spring of diversity course requirements is reflected in the proposals selected this year for Project Aware funds. The Project Aware program description indicates first or second-year courses that fill the undergraduate diversity requirements are a priority this year, the fourth year of the program. All three proposals awarded funding for the 1996-97 academic year will do just that.

Sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Provost's Office, Project Aware is a competitive program that gives faculty members release time from teaching duties during one semester to develop courses or methods that promote internationalization and multicultural awareness in their classrooms. Program funds go to the participants' departments to cover the costs of lost teaching time. Following is a summary of the faculty participating in Project Aware and their projects.

Brenda Daly, associate professor of English, with the assistance of English faculty Mary Helen Dunlop and Kathleen Hickok, will develop a 200-level literature course that will include selections from three to five cultures, depending on who is teaching it. Typically, Daly noted, faculty members have developed a cultural and literature background in one or two cultures, such as African American literature or Latino literature, and courses are built around a specialty.

Daly, with the help of faculty in the English department's literature group, will develop sample syllabi and topics for the class. She also will develop a list of resources (World Wide Web, audio-visual materials, etc.) useful to teachers who will teach the multicultural literature course, as well as a library of likely textbooks for the course.

The new course is intended for students from across the university.

Barbara Pleasants, assistant professor of zoology and genetics, will develop a 300-level course on biology, ethics and prejudice. Pleasants said the new course will look at the use, abuse and misinterpretation of issues in biology for political or social agendas. Topics will include issues such as immigration policies based on race, anti-semitism, using genetic engineering and prenatal testing to "improve" the human race and using world population statistics to drum up fear.

The course, which will target life science students, will help meet either of the diversity requirements. Pleasants said she hopes to teach the course for the first time spring semester 1998.

Tony Smith, professor, and Jeffrey Vogel, assistant professor, in the philosophy department, will develop a 200- level philosophy course that addresses the ethics of diversity, focusing on race, gender, class and sexual preference. Smith said most introductory philosophy courses combine theoretical and applied ethics in their course content, which leaves just a fraction of the class time to discuss ethical issues as they apply to diversity.

"Diversity inherently is an ethical matter," Smith said. "We hope this course will help beginning undergraduate students confront ethical issues related to diversity."

He and Vogel will take time next spring to review the literature as well as syllabi of other universities that currently offer a diversity course from a philosophical perspective.

For information on deadlines for next year's Project Aware proposals, contact the Center for Teaching Excellence, 4- 2906.

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