Diversity topic course offered to foster conversation

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Kelsey Carlo, Staff Writer

Utica College’s academic catalog will be expanding next semester with the addition of the one-credit SOC 300A course. The class, titled “Questioning Diversity: Origins, Speech, and Exchange,” is five-weeks long and will take place every Wednesday from Jan. 17 to Feb. 14 for one-credit.

The course goal will be to examine how media allows exploration of differences while embracing unique perspectives through readings, social media, DNA technology, music and data.

According to Dean for Diversity & Student Development Alane Varga, many courses offered within different disciplines have diversity-related topics implemented into their curriculums. Typically, these disciplines are social science, government and politics, education and business.

There are, however, new courses offered next semester that are “D-designated,” which will cover a certain topic within the diversity aspect. These topics generally revolve around the discussion of diverse populations and perspectives.

“Many thoughtful questions and concerns have come up regarding diversity perspectives,” Varga said. “These topic courses can be used by faculty to explore different kinds of diversity and portray them within new disciplines.”

The use of these classes is part of a larger goal of incorporating a better, well-rounded educational experience for students. Varga mentions that this is a way for students to have a better understanding in their lives after college and be able to work in a diverse global society.

“What we have heard is that students learn in all sorts of places, but the classroom is the one core place to have these conversations and discuss different perspectives with other people,” Varga said. “We shape curriculum that needs to be part of the college experience in and out of the classroom and it is important to make these practices both professional and educational.”

This particular diversity course is going to be used as an experiment to test out and potentially be a model for the future.

Brett Orzechowski, assistant professor of management and media, will be one of five professors leading the course and said that faculty felt strongly about the effort to offer such diversity courses and that can be used as an opportunity to openly have discussions about diverse perspectives.

“I am very excited about this course and have to thank Dr. Green and Dr. Blouet for their work helping plan this curriculum,” Orzechowski said. “One aspect of why I was drawn to Utica College is because of its diverse offerings. There is a nice mix of students from everywhere, such as NYC and Upstate NY. It is very rewarding to have that mix in a classroom and to hear diverse backgrounds, and I feel that is important to a college student’s life.”

Matthew Lominy decided to enroll in the course because he wants to gain a better understanding of where he comes from and how his ethnicity shapes the way he interacts with others.

Lominy, a student of Orzechowski’s, became interested in diversity courses when he started to go to more diversity-based events on campus. This allowed him to speak to students who were already in such courses and get an idea on their effectiveness.

“We have all grown up in one particular culture in an area where others most likely think and act similarly,” Lominy said. “By including diversity courses to a campus, it opens up other people’s lives and ways of thinking and interacting. It makes you realize that where you come from is different from the person next to you. By allowing yourself to listen and understand some of that information, I think there would be a lot more respect towards everyone and their cultures.”

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