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Department of English

Diversity Project

ENGL 100 (“Diversity Writing”)

Course Description & Objectives

Diversity Writing is an introductory writing course that allows students to read and respond to a broad range of texts and media that deal with various aspects of diversity. Students will have opportunities to identify, describe, analyze, and research issues of diversity. Additionally, students will develop their capability to write for specific purposes and audiences and gain experience in researching and writing in academic contexts.

Importantly, writing cannot escape diversity. In order to communicate effectively, students need to be aware of how their audiences differ.  An awareness of diversity will allow students to engage more effectively with their readers, especially in terms of the research and examples they use as well as their style and tone.

Diversity Writing connects the examination of diversity in the United States (defined broadly as differences in class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors like religion and geographical region) with the rhetorical concerns of writing for different audiences and purposes.

By the end of the course, students will be expected to be able to:

  • Identify how culture and society impacts the ways human beings are represented.
  • Situate themselves as individuals and as members of particular cultural groups.
  • Research diversity issues that impact them as college students and citizens (e.g. “hate speech,” “white privilege,” “racism”).
  • Analyze non-literary “texts” (broadly defined to include images, movies, speeches, websites, informative essays, diaries, business memos, etc.) and evaluate how authors and designers choose to represent difference.
  • Conduct research, evaluate appropriate resources, and properly integrate and cite sources.
  • Demonstrate competence in college-level reading and writing skills (e.g., active note-taking, summarizing, identifying and producing theses, supporting main points, editing).
  • Demonstrate an awareness of their writing process.
  • Brogno, Julie, et al.Diversity Writing.
  • Faigley, Lester. The Brief Penguin Handbook. (recommended) 
Paper Descriptions

Diversity Writing Introduction: Writing With and Against the Grain. Students engage with an editorial that questions the value of diversity training on college campuses in order to gain experience with the important strategy of reading “with the grain” and “against the grain.” Students write two brief responses, one that describes their points of agreement and one that explains the editorial’s limitations and weaknesses.

Personal Ethnography. Students situate themselves within the system of diversity, especially in the social constructions of gender, class, and race. They create a narrative that demonstrates how they position themselves in terms of the diversity factors and then write an analysis that explains how their narrative reveals social and cultural meanings.

Informative Report. Students research a local or campus-based diversity issue and inform an audience, in a professional memo report form, who may misunderstand or not fully grasp the diversity issue and its consequences.

Advertisement Analysis.  Students analyze how ads represent different groups of people. In a professional memo format, students describe how an advertisement appeals to its intended audience and identifies how the advertisement may exclude or actively offend some groups of people. In order to make the advertisement’s representation of people more ethical, students then describe how they would change the advertisement.

Reflection. Students look back at their experiences and progress in the course and choose a format to write to prospective students of diversity writing about what they have gained from the course.


The Portfolio Examination

During the last week of class, students turn in a final portfolio that contains three of the five papers they wrote. A different instructor will read their portfolio to determine if it passes.  Portfolio readers do not determine students’ final grade. They only determine if a student’s portfolio passes or fails the course, based on general criteria of focus/purpose, development, organization, tone, and editing.