Date Reviewed: September 15, 2017
The Introduction to the second edition of Multiculturalism on Campus states that the book’s purpose is to provide “a comprehensive resource for students, faculty, and higher education administrators about multiculturalism and diverse populations on college campuses”(1). In addition to that goal, the second edition sets out, successfully, to give “greater voice to students who are not part of the dominant cultures” (1). The format includes clear and succinct case studies that assist in revealing the experiences of each group of these students on college campuses. Authors include discussion questions at the end of their essays to assist in processing the material and to move the conversation forward.
Arranged into three perspectival parts with substantive essays addressing “Awareness of Cultural Issues,” “Information on Cultural Populations,” and “Critical Consciousness of Cultural Competence,” the book itself is a model of diversity and inclusion insofar as each essay can be understood as a roadmap for those who are just beginning to engage with the topic of multiculturalism on college campuses or it can serve to enrich and affirm the understandings of those who have been working in the area of student development and multiculturalism.
The essays in the section on “Awareness of Cultural Issues” address foundational questions through the application of sociological, psychological, and student development theories. The discussions related to describing multiculturalism and understanding the effects of oppression on student development (Chapters 1 and 2) are filled with insights that can be related to the foundational concepts which have helped to shape curriculum in social justice and Catholic social teaching.
In Part Two, descriptions of the various cultural populations that enrich our college campuses accurately reflect the diverse picture that exists today. Chapters on gender – “Men and Women” (Ch. 12) and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students” (Ch. 13) – as well as the “Adult Student” (Ch. 14), “Students with Disabilities” and “Religious and Spiritual Diversity among College Students” (Ch. 15 and 16) are extremely helpful in presenting a dynamic picture of the reality that is the American college campus today. The information in these chapters is supported with data and cultural insights. Studies cited in each of the essays in this second section serve as significant entry points for further research while at the same time enlightening the newcomer to the diverse cultural context that shapes the lives of today’s college students. The abundance of information contained in the essays may seem overwhelming at times. However, each essay concludes with recommendations and discussion questions that provide support for the development of action plans that focus on inclusion. The questions assist students, faculty, and administrators with engaging in constructive critical discourse that leads to effective strategizing.
Part Three addresses the ways in which the development of “Critical Consciousness of Cultural Competence” can occur. In this section, we come to understand that an intersectional framework is necessary for successful progress in developing the critical consciousness needed to engage in the work of inclusion and diversity. The work of social justice education is noted as holding the key to effecting change or progress in this area (384). The concept of an intersectional framework as presented here can be of assistance to those of us who are teaching courses in Catholic social teaching or peace and justice, as it demands the same competencies as those expected from the application of Catholic Social Teaching. The mastery of content along with the recognition of intersection of the various cultural contexts that inform the lives of students is something that needs to reverberate throughout the curriculum in higher education if we are to move forward as a society. The creation of inclusive campuses is the first step in bringing about real societal change and Multiculturalism on Campus is a valuable tool in making that happen.