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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Developing an Appreciation for Diverse Perspectives in our Future Educators: The Role of History and General Education

Jeanne E. Whitney.

History, with content that is necessarily diverse, offers an excellent opportunity for students to confront and consider issues of diversity. Unfortunately students do not always perceive what professors see as obvious. While we may think that by teaching students about a wide variety of cultures they will realize that they are learning about diversity, I have discovered that students may not come to that realization on their own. Students do not always connect the lessons from the past to appreciating or understanding different viewpoints and perspectives. Diversity in their minds is not history; history is the past and not connected to the ongoing discussions about diversity.

I strive to get students-particularly the future educators-to realize that what they learn in the classroom can help them better understand current events and the many different people whom they may encounter in school and out. Diverse content alone fails to provoke students to understand different perspectives or to connect the past to the present. Combining diverse content with creative and thought-provoking assignments, exercises and discussions enable me to challenge students to use the past to explore issues of diversity.

Margie Kitano, in her essays in MULTICULTURAL COURSE TRANSFORMATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION argues that we must do more than add multicultural content to courses; we must transform how we teach, by making our objectives explicit and using a variety of strategies for wrestling with diversity. In my presentation I will explain how I have worked to transform my courses. I have made diversity an obvious and integral component of my world and United States history survey courses by revising the syllabi and assignments. I have developed modified role-playing exercises and reflective essays to engage students in actively considering multicultural perspectives. I will assess my success at transforming my courses and encouraging students to explore different perspectives and to confront issues of diversity.


Jeanne E. Whitney  (United States)
Associate Professor in History
Department of History Fulton School of Liberal Arts
Salisbury University

  • History
  • Diversity
  • Multicultural Education

(30 min Conference Paper, English)