Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Feb. 21, 1997

Donaldson: Any class can include diversity

by Diana Pounds
Some form of diversity can be integrated into virtually any subject taught on campus, says Karen Donaldson, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction.

"Take engineering," she said. "Think about the engineers from all over the world and the kinds of things they bring to the table. Or math. There are many ways of getting to the same answers. We use base 10, the Mayans used a different base. But we all arrived at the same basic answers."

Donaldson is a member of a team that's developing curriculum models for diversity education at Iowa State. Earlier this week, she led a campus discussion on strategies to enhance race relations in the classroom.

Donaldson suggested that those who wish to incorporate diversity into the classroom start by learning more about the contributions and experiences of other cultures, in the United States and beyond.

"The majority of the time, we know nothing about other cultures," she said. "That's the starting point for all faculty and staff. Broaden our awareness about the contributions of all."

A diverse education is vital for students, Donaldson said. "As we prepare students for employment, we have to recognize that all need to be multiculturally literate in this day and age.

"Corporations are discovering that diversity can be profitable," she added. Diverse people bring diverse ideas, which often increases productivity.

Most importantly, Donaldson said, there's a moral issue involved in a diverse education. It helps us "acknowledge the fact that we need to become greater advocates of human rights for all."

Racial division in the United States is "a pretty scary thing," Donaldson said. "If we continue not to address the problem, it can lead to the demise of a great nation."

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