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Satya

Posted by Arjendu on June 1, 2010

A link to a post by Satya Mohanty (with a bilingual pun in the title since ‘satya’ means ‘the truth’ in Oriya or Hindi). It’s a thoughtful, interesting survey of the ‘the future of diversity’ and also a plug for a book co-edited by him with precisely that title. Given the things I have been thinking about as team leader for Carleton’s campus task force on the ‘environment’ inside the classroom, a lot of what he says resonates strongly. In particular, for example, that we should “beyond our current – perfectly justified – concern with providing more students “access” to college [..] to think about what our campuses feel like to those who come to learn.”

Here’s a couple of summarizing quotes:

All these attempts to imagine a more genuinely diverse academic campus have an interesting implication: academic “excellence” can be achieved only if we recognize the social conditions in which learning takes place. Our efforts to promote excellence on our campuses are closely tied to our ideals of democracy and diversity, and these efforts cannot be successful if we do not question our deeper assumptions about what success is and what produces an effective culture for the work of scholarship and teaching. For such work is not done by abstract individuals but by socially embodied beings, with socially produced strengths and vulnerabilities, and any attempt to think about the educational culture of a campus must focus on the actual experiences of faculty and students from a variety of social backgrounds. This requires a rethinking of some of our most basic theoretical assumptions as well as a reexamination of our traditional habits and practices.

As well as

Social diversity is about more than just numbers. Most importantly, it is not a “problem” to be solved, but rather an enormous social and educational resource that is waiting to be tapped. From admissions to sports to the designing of the curriculum and of non-curricular interactions, the practical and theoretical challenges posed by a campus’s “diversity” are the gateways to a more democratic national future.

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