The ‘Opening of the American Mind’: Curricular insurgencies

As the number of enrolled undergraduate students of color increased at UC Berkeley, so did a demand for a curriculum reflective of “a people's history” of resistance and social movements.  

[The] American university no longer is and never again will be homogeneous, and much of what we have seen recently in terms of speech codes and the like are a stumbling attempt to adapt to this new heterogeneity. The major consequence of the new heterogeneity on campuses, however, has not been repression but the very opposite--a flowering of ideas and scholarly innovation unmatched in our history.
Professor Lawrence Levine, The Opening of the American Mind: Canons, Culture and History, 1996

In 1968, UC Berkeley students formed the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF). Building on the imagination, skills, and tools of radical liberation and collective study, TWLF created a list of demands, including the development of a Third World Studies College of African American, Asian American, Native American, and Chicanx-Latinx American academic departments. TWLF was critical to the eventual creation of the UC Berkeley Department of Ethnic Studies. At the heart of the insurgent movement, coalitions were being formed, coalitional politics and analytics that would foreground the eventual structure of the American Cultures requirement.

As the more diverse student body demanded a more diverse education, the nearly all-white faculties at US universities fiercely guarded the notion that a proper education emerged from studying the whitewashed canon of Great Books and viewed anything that might question the objectivity of that premise as an unwarranted political intrusion. The faculty attitude around the country was, ‘We let you in here. Come in, sit down, and enjoy the show.'
Professor Troy Duster, Changing the Culture of the Academy, 2007

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