Federal gov. funds Catholic school's 'JEDI' diversity courses

The 'JEDI' courses will explore topics such as 'racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia.'

In 2021, Siena Heights received a $34k federal grant to create a new diversity and inclusion certificate program.

This fall semester, Siena Heights University, a Catholic college in Michigan, will launch JEDI 101 – a three-credit introductory course on “Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” 

“Students will be introduced to topics including but not limited to racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia through readings drawn from classical and contemporary sources in history, philosophy, literature, and business,” according to the course description.

The course was established as part of the school’s new diversity and inclusion certificate program after receiving a federal grant from National Endowment for the Humanities in 2021. 

Awarded $34,905 in taxpayer funding, Sienna Heights was tasked to “design a new, coherent D&I certificate program at SHU that is qualitatively distinct from the D&I certificates offered at other institutions.”

[RELATED: U Arizona requires DEI credit hours for faculty and grad students]

The program consists of three JEDI classes that progressively build upon each other, including JEDI 201 (Integrated Studies) and JEDI 480 (Practical Application). Students qualify for the JEDI certificate after completion of all 12 credit hours.

The program is led by Leland Harper, assistant professor at SHU and founder of Leland Harper Consulting, a firm that promotes “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Solutions for the Modern Hospitality Industry.” 

Harper declined Campus Reform’s opportunity for comment.

In August, SHU will partner with Harper’s firm to conduct implicit bias training for health professionals. 

[RELATED: University will not let students graduate without passing a DEI course]

SHU is not the only college in Michigan to receive public funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.

In July, Campus Reform reported that the University of Michigan was awarded $15.8 million by the National Institutes of Health to further expand its diversity hiring. To further pursue DEI goals, the university decided to invest another $63.7 million from its own funds as well.

Campus Reform has contacted all relevant parties for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.