- Multiculturalism on Campus: Theory, Models, and Practices for Understanding Diversity and Creating Inclusion
The continuous increase of diverse populations within the United States and on college campuses warrants a society that better understands and communicates effectively with people from different backgrounds. Further, in order to sustain a viable workforce it will be imperative for employees to experience working with people unlike themselves and appreciate diversity and diverse perspectives. [End Page 364] Thus, developing a high level of multicultural competence represents an important outcome of postsecondary education and is critical not only for success in the workplace, but also for the good of our society. The editors of Multiculturalism on Campus open the text by defining multicultural competence as awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to work with people different from themselves (Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004). Multicultural competence is used to frame the discussions throughout the text and the editors stress the importance of multicultural competence as a necessary component of graduate education for students in higher education and student affairs.
The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 includes four chapters that focus on increasing awareness about multicultural issues. I applaud the authors for including this discussion up front as it is necessary to talk about key constructs such as privilege, power, and oppression before discussing the experiences of various multicultural groups. Even if people do not agree with defining “isms” as systematic advantages based on one’s dominant status, it is important to at a minimum be aware of this definition as a context for further discussion on multicultural populations. Defining terms such as privilege, power, and oppression can be difficult dialogues to have, particularly with individuals who have never had such discussions nor defined terms in this way. In the introductory chapter, the editors provide a helpful model that describes possible reactions to difficult dialogues around multicultural issues. Acknowledging the frustration, anger, and other emotional reactions to multicultural issues is an important part of the process of facilitating multicultural competence.
The 12 chapters in the second part of the book cover various multicultural populations on today’s college campuses including Latinos, Asian American / Pacific Islander, African American, American Indian, Biracial, White, international, men and women, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), nontraditional, students with disabilities, and religious and spiritual diversity. These chapters on respective ethnic/multicultural groups provide critical information about the college experience and the impact of the college environment on the student experience for diverse populations. In addition, each chapter in this section includes a brief discussion of relevant social identity/student development theories with an emphasis on how to use theory in practice to facilitate growth and development for multicultural groups. Also included at the end of each chapter in part 2 of the text are recommendations and best practices for campus administrators to consider as well as a series of case studies and discussion questions to help individuals reflect on the material in each chapter.
The third and final part of the book focuses on increasing multicultural competence for students, practitioners, and faculty on college campuses. Previous research supports that graduate students report having difficulty translating knowledge and awareness about diverse groups into good practice (Gayles & Kelly, 2007; Talbot, 1996). In a single chapter, the editors acknowledge that administrators have busy schedules that sometimes make it difficult to apply theory to practice. Nonetheless, it is important to regularly remind staff members to reflect on what they are doing and why, as well as the kind of climate they aspire to create on campus. This is a one way to sustain a continuous dialogue that fosters multicultural competence and make sure that students from diverse backgrounds feel validated and included within the campus environment. For faculty members, the authors include in the appendices sample syllabi for teaching diversity related courses and suggestions for reading material and [End Page 365] assignments that stretch students beyond their comfort zones and help them reflect on their own level...