What does it mean to say that diversity is a Global Challenge? You could argue diversity is a fact of life – if we are all different, why should this constitute a challenge?

More often than not, people like and feel more comfortable with those others who are like themselves, feeling in turn threatened by those and that which differs. History across the board, from East to West and South to North, shows us how our modern societies are, in the jargon of social scientists, highly differentiated societies. Globalization has highlighted our differences and the contradictions between the need to belong (to discrete communities), and the fact of living in highly anonymous, mixed and complex societies. At the same time, new technologies increase our possibilities to realise the extents to which we are connected to, and depend on, the actions of those who we label as strangers and others; those with whom we share nothing, except for the planet (and that’s not little!).

There are many approaches to the question of diversity. In this course, we will use the various disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches which blend in the Human Diversity major to address diversity thematically.

Learning objectives

  • Become aware of the complexities inherent to the challenge of diversity

  • Develop an ability to critically disclose the complexity of diversity from different disciplinary per­spectives based on different forms of evidence

  • Understand the crucial role of interdisciplinary approaches and methods in humanistic study, including the way in which history frames and explains events, how literature provides narratives from an experiential perspective, and how theory informs the ways we conceptualise the different meanings of diversity

  • Being able to examine, question, and position oneself as regards the prevailing criteria about what is considered normal and desirable vis-à-vis the forces that trigger social change in contemporary societies

Weekly themes

  1. Why does diversity matter?
  2. (de-)Constructing gender
  3. Does race exist?
  4. Religion: what you believe is who you are, or not?
  5. Does class still matter?
  6. Nationality as identity: old or new challenges?
  7. From diversity in a medieval town to teaching diversity in 2015: The challenge remains open
  8. Reading week


Last Modified: 08-09-2015