Awareness can come naturally. Understanding, however, often takes education and reflection, things Shoreline Community College has offered students in the multicultural arena since the 1970s.
“Shoreline has always valued multicultural understanding,” Betsey Barnett, Multicultural Studies instructor, said. “It’s been a core of our college.”
Barnett said the program that started as an American Ethnic Studies curriculum has evolved over the decades. That growth will continue this fall when the program takes on a new name: Equity and Social Justice.
“Equity and Social Justice really embraces the core programs that we teach,” Barnett said.
The new name reflects the program's focus and its journey.
Over the years, new courses were designed and added in response to current issues, disparate views and world challenges. Women’s Studies courses were developed, and with time, the scope of the curricula expanded. Then came deaf studies, environmental justice, gender studies and examining power and privilege issues surrounding race, ethnicity, nationality, class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, environment.
With the more contemporary, diverse course offerings, Barnett said faculty realized that the name of the department no longer reflected the entirety of the program and course outcomes. A proposal was submitted to the college Curriculum Committee this past winter to change the department name from Intra-American Studies to Equity and Social Justice.
While more descriptive of the program, Barnett says the bottom line for the name change was really for students – to make it easier for them to transfer the credits to four-year schools.
Previously, courses labeled IAS transferred as various Social Science and Humanities courses on a case-by-case basis. Barnett says that most multicultural courses transfer as American Ethnic Studies, History, Gender and Women’s Studies or as Social Science or Humanities electives.
"In our curriculum revision, we coded each of our courses according to how they transfer to colleges in Washington state,” Barnett said, adding that under the former format, that wasn't possible and also have all the courses under one umbrella.
“It will be confusing at first, we know, as people try to find us under IAS, so we hope that everyone will help explain this to students,” Barnett said.
Barnett said most classes and most instructors will be the same. New this fall will be the program name and three new sub-headings – Gender and Women’s Studies; American Ethnic Studies; and Multicultural Studies.