Fall 2022

Dilemmas of Diversity

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-337  |  Education Studies, as EDST-337

Moodle site: Course


Ron Lembo (Section 01)


(Offered as SOCI 337 and EDST 337) In this course, we will focus on the diversification of higher education. We will pay particular attention to efforts made by selective liberal arts colleges and universities to open their doors to students disadvantaged by barriers of racial discrimination and excluded by the means of class privilege. We will critically interrogate the concept of diversity and its implementation, paying attention to both successes and problems. Among these problems is the gap between a diversity promised and a diversity delivered.

We will employ sociological theories and concepts to explore this gap, the dilemmas it presents, and the cultural strategies that have emerged in response to them. Situating contemporary efforts of selective colleges and universities to diversify in historical context, we will pay particular attention to broader transformation of racial and class discourse in the United States in the post civil rights era, including federal efforts to address discrimination, Supreme Court decisions regarding race-based admissions policy, changes in corporate personnel policies, the rise of “colorblind” rhetoric, growing economic inequality, and the expansion of neoliberal policies and practices in higher education today. Drawing on this context, we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of diversity initiatives that have been put into place, the patterns of cultural change occurring on campuses, and the role social difference can play in constructing alternatives to inclusive communities as we presently envision them.

Students will be encouraged to work collaboratively and will employ a variety of methods to document systematically the current state of diversity on their respective campuses.

Requisite: SOCI 112 or equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Lembo.

How to handle overenrollment: senior and junior majors, then seniors, juniors, etc.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, and group work.


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Fall 2022