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ISU adds graduation requirement for course in U.S. diversity and inclusion

Illinois State University
The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in U.S. Society (IDEAS) requirement will kick in for new students starting in fall 2023.

Students at Illinois State University will soon be required to complete at least one course focused on issues of inclusion, diversity and equity in the U.S. before they can graduate.

The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in U.S. Society (IDEAS) requirement will kick in for new students starting in fall 2023.

“The fact is that majority of our students are going to spend their careers and lives in the U.S. and that it was important for them to understand the history, the structures that influence equity, diversity and inclusion issues here at home,” said Rocio Rivadeneyra, ISU associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. She chaired the task force which sculpted the IDEAS recommendation.

The requirement can be completed by taking an IDEAS-approved course at ISU, an approved course in the Illinois Articulation Initiative General Education Core Curriculum or a baccalaureate-oriented associate’s degree at an Illinois community college.

The idea for this requirement came from the Campus Climate Assessment Task Force in 2016.

“One piece of feedback that we got from student, faculty and staff survey and focus groups was that there was kind of a missing piece in our curriculum for students,” Rivadeneyra said. “That we didn’t really have a class that all students had to take that focused on domestic diversity, the issues we have with diversity here in the U.S.”

The ISU Academic Senate approved the recommendation last fall.

According to the Education Encyclopedia on Multiculturalism in Higher Education, 63% of colleges and universities have a diversity requirement in place or are in the process of developing one. The number of colleges with diversity requirements is likely to expand over the coming years.

The exact IDEAS approved courses will be discussed and decided over the span of the next year, aiming to have them ready in the spring of 2023. This new requirement is not expected to slow the graduation path of students, as there are courses across fields of study that fit the requirement.

“When you’re in a classroom, you’re in a workspace, you’re in the media, and you’re interacting with people who are different from you, you can kind of put yourself in their shoes and come to a better understanding by having a history of these courses,” Rivadeneyra said. “It helps understand different histories, perspectives, different worldviews that people come into in situations.”

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Marissa Harvey is a reporting intern at WGLT. She joined in the spring semester of 2022.
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