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Saturday, January 28, 2017
Ohio State class teaches students to detect and respond to microaggressions, white privilege
‘Crossing Identity Boundaries’ course devoted to identity politics
A class to be offered this spring at Ohio State University is an identity politics-based course that in large part is focused on teaching students how to detect microaggressions and white privilege. The course is dedicated to social justice themes, and pledges to teach students how to “identify microaggressions,” define and address “systems of power and privilege,” advance notions of diversity and inclusion, and prioritize “global citizenship,” its description states.
“Crossing Identity Boundaries” aims to expand students’ “self-awareness” and help them develop “dialogue skills.” Taking the course, offered through the Department of Educational Studies, is one way students can fulfill the university’s mandatory diversity requirement, and many sections are offered throughout the school year. The course coordinator and instructors involved in teaching the class did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment.
Part of the homework includes taking two “implicit bias tests,” and writing journals on prompts such as “power/privilege in your life” or calling on Christians to write about what it might feel like to be Muslim, or males on what it’s like to be female, and “reflecting on how this new identity would have impacted your day.” One big part of the class is a microaggressions group presentation and reflective paper.
The assignment, according to a syllabus, calls on students to “find at least 12 examples of microaggressions using at least 3 different types of social media (e.g., Yik Yak, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest). Explain who the target of the microaggression is and why your group believes it is an example of a negative remark. Provide an example of how you might respond to such a comment.”
The assignment’s goal is for students to “evaluate the impact that power and privilege have within social media,” a syllabus states. Students are graded on the “quality of microaggresion chosen (do they clearly articulate why they are microaggressions and which group is targeted” and “quality of response (did they address the microaggression in an appropriate and meaningful way?)”
Meanwhile, required reading assignments include: “Waking up White: What it means to accept your legacy, for better and worse,” “The Arab woman and I,” and “Memoirs of a gay fraternity brother.” The course pedagogy is given entirely from the lens of identity politics, “including but not limited to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and national origin,” according to a syllabus for the class.
“Students will begin to develop an understanding of major social justice concepts (e.g., power, privilege, difference, microaggressions),” the syllabus states. “Students will learn to value their own self-identity and the identities of others different from them.”