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Princeton U. announces courses which fulfill new ‘Culture and Difference’ requirement

Forty-one course offerings will satisfy Princeton University’s new “Culture and Difference” requirement this fall semester, as the university aims to expose students to the “perspectives of groups who have historically been excluded from dominant cultural narratives or structures of social power.”

According to The Daily Princetonian, Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss said the new mandate “ensures that […]  students encounter the cultural analysis of difference,” which he claimed is “an essential disciplinary approach that had not previously been reflected in our requirements.”

A year ago, the DP reported that “faculty and students alike” believed the then-proposed course requirement changes were “necessary.”

For example, after taking the course SOC 227: Race and Ethnicity, one student said “[you] can’t have a university education and not have a course on race and ethnicity and what role this plays in people’s lives and the role of the government.” A university lecturer approved of “Culture and Difference” because it “acknowledges that structures of power influence the ways we all inhabit the world.”

Some of the courses which satisfy the new mandate include:

Black Mirror: Race, Technology, and Justice. This course description asks “Are robots racist? Is software sexist? Are neural networks neutral?” Students will use the popular Netflix show “Black Mirror” as “a starting point” by which to “develop a conceptual toolkit to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism.”

America Then and Now. This course offers an approach rarely seen on college campuses (/sarcasm): “Critical concepts [such] as ‘community,’ ‘xenophobia,’ and ‘race,’ [students] will consider the structures of knowing and feeling that have formed America since its founding.”

Queer Becomings. Students in this course will “understand what queer lifeworlds are like in diverse cultural and sociopolitical contexts.” Dreadfully important questions such as “What is the relationship between queerness and larger factors like culture, coloniality, global capitalism, religion, and the state?” will be considered.

Queer Literatures: Theory, Narrative, and Aesthetics. Students will “read from various trajectories of queer literature and engage ‘reading queerly across race, gender, ability, class, and geography.”

Race in France. Students will examine the course topic via the lenses of “colonialism and immigration, scientific and juridical racism, anti-racist activism, and various racial imaginaries.”

Steven Kelts, who will teach “Multiculturalism — Conflicts Over Diversity in the Modern State,” said that classes in Politics “have always been about difference […] about how people negotiate their strong differences in the public sphere.”

Interestingly, the word “conservative” could not be found in any course title in the entire Princeton Fall 2020 course catalogue.

Read the Daily Princetonian article.

MORE: Civil rights group blasts racially segregated course offerings

MORE: Ten dumbfounding gender studies courses on tap this semester

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.