Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in WLC

The recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers in Minneapolis laid bare deep divisions present in American society, not only for those of us living here in Minnesota, but also for people across the United States and throughout the world. For members of the African American community and other marginalized populations, such rifts have been all too clear for far too long. Unfortunately, their attempts to expose the engrained, institutionalized nature of racism in our country have often been met with either outright resistance or willful indifference. Blinded by both privilege and ignorance, American society has largely refused to deal with the crisis in an honest and unveiled manner. This must change.

The Department of World Languages and Cultures thus stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all those who endeavor to promote positive change through social awareness campaigns, community organizing, and peaceful protest. The motivation behind this declaration is not political but rather pedagogical: In making it, we re-affirm a longstanding commitment as educators to cultivate values in our students that will help them to make informed, thoughtful, and inclusive decisions as active and engaged citizens in a functioning democracy.

Our department has always treated language instruction as but a prelude to a much deeper and more meaningful opportunity to enlighten and empower students. In the past year, curriculum in our language programs addressed difficult topics such as historical memory, racial justice, and gender identity, to name just a few. By showing students how other cultures address these issues, and providing them with an intellectual space for meaningful, collaborative reflection, our courses aim to help them develop a more nuanced sense of the complex nature of social, cultural, and political dynamics. Over the course of the next two years, we commit to further enhance the cultural content in all of our language programs in order to help our students, our community, and ourselves to better and more productively engage in difficult discussions and to join in the long yet hopeful march toward a more just and peaceful society for all.