The University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) is developing multicultural courses within its existing curriculum. The effort will expose students to opportunities they might otherwise not be afforded. Prior to graduation, UD undergraduate students must take at least one multicultural course and a 2017 survey of CANR faculty found that 76 percent of respondents taught courses that address one or more of the diversity competencies — cultural intelligence, diversity self-awareness, perspective taking, personal and social responsibility, knowledge application and understanding global systems.
Despite this, only one regularly offered CANR course (Plants and Human Culture) officially satisfies the University’s multicultural course requirement.
With the goal of increasing multicultural course offerings, the college centered this year’s teaching mini-grants on this topic. To apply for a grant, CANR faculty looked at existing courses and presented curriculum revisions, new materials and professional development opportunities that would transform those courses into multicultural courses. College leadership evaluated the proposals and selected five to implement.
- Wildlife Policy and Administration (ENWC413/613)
- Sustainable Development (APEC100)
- Food for Thought (ANFS102)
- History of Landscape Architecture (LARC202)
- Animals and Human Culture (ANFS100)
“All of these courses are great examples of how agriculture and natural resources contribute to UD undergraduates’ multicultural awareness,” added CANR Dean Mark Rieger. “[Associate Professor] Tanya Gressley gets all the credit. She wrote the grant guidelines and ushered this effort along. Our faculty did a wonderful job with their proposals.”
As Rose Muravchick, assistant director of UD’s Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, explains, this effort demonstrates the college’s commitment to inclusive excellence.
“This is a wonderful initiative that supports many of the University’s strategic goals. It demonstrates that CANR highly values teaching,” said Muravchick. “Many faculty members are passionate about creating supportive, inclusive and diverse learning spaces and courses. They are experts in their research areas, but also talented pedagogues.”
The revised courses will be submitted for certification with hopes that all five will meet UD’s multicultural course requirement beginning in fall of 2019.
About the courses
Wildlife Policy and Administration (ENWC413/613)
Chris Williams, professor of wildlife ecology who also oversees CANR’s waterfowl and upland game bird research program, provides an introduction to policy issues that relate to wildlife management and natural resources. Students study how cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and history affect values relationships to the land and wildlife. Williams will challenge participants to consider how race, indigenous cultures and non-European origins affect values toward a broader global relationship with the land. His students will analyze the ethical, social, and environmental consequences of policies and ideologies. They will systematically ponder how institutions, ideologies, rhetoric and European-descended cultural representations shape North American culture, identity and values toward the land and wildlife.
Sustainable Development (APEC100)
Kent Messer, the Unidel Howard Cosgrove Career Development Chair for the Environment in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, will engage students in learning and critical thinking about a variety of pressing issues, such as natural resource management, environmental protection and poverty alleviation. From a regional, national, international and multicultural context, the course integrates natural science, economics, ethics and policy to improve the wellbeing of people and the environment. Messer will discuss how cultural differences impact agricultural production, environmental conditions and policies as well and the plight and environmental degradation of low-income communities.
Food for Thought (ANFS102)
CANR students will gain an appreciation for the complexity of food production, product development and distribution systems from Kali Kniel, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. The course provides an overview and an introduction to the fascinating and complex world of food science. Students will consider how foods shape our identity, realities and perspectives. Kniel will cover global food topics and critical issues of social responsibility — such as food waste and food insecurity.
History of Landscape Architecture (LARC202)
Anna Wik, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, provides an introduction to the history of landscape architecture — from pre-history through modern times. Students not only review specific gardens, landscapes and designed spaces, but are also required to consider the philosophical, social and cultural reasons these landscapes came to be. Students reflect what is aesthetic, safe and sacred. They will also explore diverse attitudes and outlooks upon nature and the built environment throughout history. Finally, students gain a goal perspective, investigating landscape architecture from ancient Mycenaean culture; Egypt; Italian Renaissance; Chinese, Japanese, Islamic gardens of the Iberian peninsula and Mughal empire gardens of India.
Animals and Human Culture (ANFS100)
Eric Benson, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, will teach students about the important role of animals in human society and how animals’ significance varies across cultural settings. Participants will explore human-animal interactions on issues related to food and fiber production, welfare, conservation, research, work and service, natural and man-made disasters, zoonotic disease, and human health. Benson will incorporate international production and management approaches, provide a historical perspective on animal welfare and greatly broaden students’ perspective and self-awareness around the subject.