A push for diversity has led to new options for Loyola students looking to fulfill their Core Curriculum. The selection for the fall 2017 semester includes changes to some requirements and the addition of new classes.
The number of courses for the foundational history requirement will double. Instead of choosing between Western Civilization before (HIST 101) or after (HIST 102) the 17th century, students can now also pick American Pluralism (HIST 103) or Global History Since 1500 (HIST 104).
The changes to the Core Curriculum, a series of required classes for students, were made in response to student feedback about diversity on campus, according to Assistant Provost on Academic Diversity Christopher Manning.
“It largely came about as a result of paying attention to what our students were asking for in the fall of 2015,” said Manning. “Students in a series of protests had indicated that they wanted more diversity in the university core. In particular, they made the argument that the university core was pretty eurocentric.”
Loyola Black Voices organized a demonstration in fall 2015 and raised concerns about “racial inequality at Loyola,” The PHOENIX reported at the time. The group listed demands for the university to help it become more diverse.
Ugochukwu Okere, 21, said he brought up issues of diversity in the Core with Core Faculty Director and physics professor David Slavsky, Vice President of Student Development Jane Neufeld and others in Loyola’s administration after the Loyola Black Voices demonstration.
Okere said they were receptive and he helped work with the history department and administration to brainstorm the changes.
One of Loyola Black Voices’ demands was to reintroduce black world studies as a major, according to Okere. Although he said he liked the idea, Okere said he thought the university could go further in making an academic change.
“I and a lot of other students I know have an issue with historical core curriculums being … generally focused on western civilization,” said the political science and social work double major. “People have a problem with that because … what it’s really saying is that western civilization, white history, European history is core and foundational to American students. However, we live in a multicultural society, and so we should have our history classes reflect that.”
Manning said Slavsky, who was the director of the Core Curriculum at the time, held meetings with members of the Loyola community to address those concerns.
Robert Bucholz is a history professor and was chair of the history department when concerns were raised. He said he met with university administrators and students in March 2016 to discuss additions to the Tier 1 history Core in an email to The PHOENIX. The changes were approved in April 2016, according to Bucholz.
Loyola’s Core Curriculum consists of 48 credit hours covering the knowledge areas of writing, fine arts, history, literature, mathematics, science, social science, philosophy, theology and ethics. Six knowledge areas require two courses: a foundational Tier 1 course and a Tier 2 course, according to the university Core website.
The changes to the history requirements will only affect students who have not taken any history Core classes, according to Slavsky.
One of the Tier 1 historical courses now available, American Pluralism, looks at the history of America through the perspective of marginalized groups, according to Manning. Meanwhile, Global History Since 1500 focuses on the interactions between different countries and cultures throughout history.
Changes will also be made in other knowledge areas. Introduction to Women’s Studies and Gender Studies (WSGS 101) will be added to Tier 1 of the societal and cultural knowledge area.
Three classes will be added to Tier 2 of the theology knowledge area: Social Justice & Injustice (THEO 203), Religious Ethics and Ecological Crisis (THEO 204) and Religions of Asia (THEO 299).
Social Justice & Injustice and Religious Ethics and Ecological Crisis are brand new to Loyola and were included because some students said they wanted to see more diverse classes, according to Slavsky.
Theology professor Sandra Sullivan-Dunbar is scheduled to teach Social Justice & Injustice in the fall 2017 semester. She said she is excited to expand on topics she touches on in her other classes.
“This will enable me to teach about subjects that I think are very current,” said Sullivan-Dunbar. “We can talk about migration, and we can talk about race, and we can talk about poverty and economics and all sorts of things that touch students directly or at least concern them directly.”
Okere said the changes to the Core will allow students to become culturally aware and sensitive.
“One of the major issues that we face when it comes to racism is simply not knowing what the other side is like — what being another person is like [who’s] not the same race, sex, class or gender as you,” Okere said. “Learning about other people’s cultural background [and] learning about other people’s histories is a way to bridge that.”
Madeline Sheahan, 18, said she thinks the new courses would encourage students to become more understanding.
“You might learn a little bit more if you learn to see it from another point of view,” said the first-year neuroscience major. “You might learn a little empathy of another group of people that are completely different from your own. I don’t see it as a bad thing … Learn a little empathy. Learn about someone else’s view [and] not your own for a change.”