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UAFS students standing together on campus

WORLD VIEWS: At the annual Block Party, some of the registered student organizations celebrate ethnic heritage that engage students' interest.

BT-Current | Bell Tower Magazine | Arts and SciencesFebruary 14, 2022

Life Around the World and at Home

In December, UAFS announced Diversity Studies will be available as a minor.

The measure was approved by the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. But those were only the last two steps in a process that began in 2017, said Dr. Svetia Dimitrova, assistant professor of Sociology and one of the faculty members who helped develop and flesh out the new program.

While she and other faculty members were researching and refining their ideas for a new minor, students also were considering the issue. Dimitrova recalled at Chancellor Chat – periodic town-hall style gathering with Chancellor Terisa Riley – a student requested courses that directly confronted issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As part of continuing effort to create a more welcoming campus community where everyone can be seen and heard, in early 2021 the university appointed John Blue as executive director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Although the creation of the minor was underway before Blue joined the university, both reflected the goal of inclusivity.

The minor is multi-disciplinary so students who take it will take cases across various department. And the classes provide an international focus

“Students who engage in a conversation about social justice must see it, not just in this country but in a global context,” Dimintrova said. “The United States is a country of migrants. Students need to see why people came here and why they keep relationships in a global context.”

When asked the value of studying inequities, mobility, and poverty, UAFS student Megan Sonnenmoser said the study challenged her to think about ideas she hadn’t considered before. Even familiar topics were discussed in a new way, a way that built an urgency in her, she said. .

“The class helped explain the importance of anti-poverty initiatives both on campus and in society as a whole,” she wrote. “It also highlights anti-poverty initiatives that help people wanting to gain social mobility. These initiatives will help motivate people like me to get involved with anti-poverty initiatives to better society.

“College is about education, and part of that education should include the world around you and the problems within it. I know this is not the kind of class that provides a fast track to a career, but it does help one become better and more aware human,” Sonnenmoser said.