Engaging students in the classroom is vital to their
success, and incorporating diversity into curriculum is vital to engagement. It’s also vital to students’
understanding of the world and their ability to have
At Harper College in Illinois, all degree-seeking
students must complete a world culture and diversity
course as a graduation requirement. But, in fact, we
aim to infuse diversity and inclusion into curriculum
in every classroom.
“We want students who leave to be able to think
critically and have a mastery of diverse perspectives
and cultures,” says Michelé Smith, vice president
of workforce solutions and associate provost for
curriculum at Harper College.
If students are expected to be able to read, write
and navigate coursework, there should be equal
consideration given to their ability to engage in
critical conversations, Smith says.
While faculty most often lead changes in curriculum, college leaders—working in concert with the
chief diversity officer—must be vocal advocates for
this transformation, according to Smith.
To be successful, there are a few other considerations.
INVEST RESOURCES. Allocating money and time
from the start shows everyone involved—students,
faculty, staff and the community—that the
effort is intentional and has the support of
“We’ve got to put dollars behind these things so
our students understand we’re serious about the
business of helping them to feel valued, successful,
included and worthy,” Smith says.
By Tabitha Whissemore
“We want students who leave to be able to think critically and have
a mastery of diverse perspectives and cultures.”
—MICHELÉ SMITH, vice president of workforce solutions and associate provost for curriculum, Harper College