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Three students in the UAFS Men of Excellence program discuss current events before a fall meeting.

Featured | News | Health Education and Human SciencesDecember 06, 2021

UAFS Announces New Diversity Studies Minor

Written By: Rachel Rodemann Putman

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith students now have the option to minor in an important new discipline: Diversity Studies, following approval from the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. This new minor will allow students to combine courses from multiple disciplines to form a meaningful understanding of the social implications of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in history and the workforce. 

Students who choose to minor in Diversity Studies will be required to take Introduction to Diversity Studies and Cultural Anthropology to form a contextual basis for the minor, followed by four more upper-level courses that have a diversity emphasis to them. Classes can be utilized from a range of disciplines that include Anthropology, Criminal Justice, English, Foreign Language, History, Media Communication, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, and Spanish.

Dr. Daniel Maher has been named Coordinator of the Diversity Studies minor. According to Maher, "What makes this minor degree unique is that students can draw from a pool of over 30 classes to build their own degree emphasis. It is a perfect fit for any student who likes to take interdisciplinary perspectives into account." 

A Global Studies theme could be made, for example, by taking Languages of the World, History of Latin America, Social Media and Globalism, and International Relations, courses spanning departments from World Languages to Media Communication. A Sex and Gender theme could be created by taking Women and Literature, Modern American Women's History, Psychology of Human Sexuality, and Sex and Gender, with courses in the History and English departments balancing Sociology and Psychology courses. Likewise, a Race and Ethnicity emphasis could be experienced by taking Diversity Through Historical Archaeology, Hate Crimes, Intercultural Communication, and Diversity and Social Economic Justice, with courses in Criminal Justice and Social Work programs helping students develop a robust understanding of real-world applications of the topic.

In addition to these potential thematic studies, students interested in the minor may also take a sampling across the range of diversity-related classes.  "The minor was intentionally created to have a diverse curriculum,” said Maher. “For example, students can only use a maximum of 6 hours from any one discipline to satisfy the upper-level elective requirements of 12 hours. In this way, the university ensures a varied range of disciplines are used to study diversity.”

Adaptations were also made to an existing Sociology minor degree making it more focused and streamlined in response to emerging trends in applied and public sociology. New course titles and descriptions give the minor a focused sociological approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Upper-level courses were updated to focus collectively on different dimensions of inequality – poverty, race, gender, age, and ability - within diverse family structures, as well as social and political systems in the U.S. and globally.  

Additionally, within the Diversity Studies minor, the course Introduction to Diversity Studies may now be applied toward the university’s Social Science requirement. UAFS is now the first university within the UA system to offer such a general education course. This change demonstrates in a very tangible way UAFS’s commitment to building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus and communities.

From the Sociology minor the course Social Problems will now also count toward the Social Science General Education requirement. It brings UAFS course offerings in line with transfer institutions and gives students more choices related to their general education requirements.