Univ. of Michigan adds required diversity courses to business school curriculum

The University of Michigan has added a three-year diversity requirement to its Ross School of Business undergraduate curriculum that, among other things, will teach their students how race, gender and sexual orientation “connect to larger systems of power, privilege and oppression.”

The classes, which include “Identity 101” and “Entering into, Engaging with and Exiting Communities across Difference”, are mandatory for graduation and emphasize “identity, diversity and experience,” said Lynn Wooten, associate dean for undergraduate programs.

“We decided to make it a learning milestone experience and we talk about the value of being leaders,” Wooten told Campus Reform. “We truly believe that the 21st-century leaders should have cultural intelligence and the understanding of who you are as a leader and having better relationships with people because of it.”

Wooten explained that the initiative began with an effort by the Black Student Union who wanted to improve the racial climate on campus, and then others joined in their cause,

The three-year program takes place over the sophomore, junior and senior years, focusing on “identity, diversity, and organizations,” in each respective year. The program is in its first year and only has the sophomore requirement in progress.

“Identity 101” explores how race, gender and sexual orientation “connect to larger systems of power, privilege and oppression,” the course description states. “CQ Assessment Workshop” is on cultural intelligence with a focus on “the skills and capabilities needed to succeed internationally and in multicultural situations.”

The Ross Business School is ranked as one of the top undergraduate business schools in the country, and was ranked 4th by U.S. News and World Report for 2015.

The school also is the recipient of the 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award “in recognition of its efforts to ensure that diversity and inclusion are infused in all of the school’s activities.”

“This new curriculum is designed to best serve the learning styles and aspirations of this generation,” said Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the school, when the program was first announced in September. “We as educators have a responsibility to ensure that future generations understand the integral role that business plays in society and that they have the knowledge and focus to lead in a responsible way."

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