14/03/2011 § 11 Comments
You’re scanning your program’s course schedule, and see no classes being offered in your specialization. Or you attend a conference, and realize that there is a gaping hole in the way your school addresses this important issue in the field. The good news: you’re an engaged learner who is conscious of the resources being put into your coursework and your degree. The bad news: graduate schools have finite money, faculty, and flexibility for adding courses to the register. What can you do to make sure your curriculum meets your interests and educational and professional needs? Take charge!
In 2003, the Student Diversity Action Group came to the faculty of the UCLA IS program, and submitted a proposal for two courses, one being a core course that addressed cultural diversity and activist thoughts, tools, and resources for the contemporary information professional. The result? An existing class was dropped from the core curriculum, and Ethics and Diversity became a graduation requirement. As of 2009, UCLA is the only program that requires a course on diversity for information professionals*.
Looking at the motivations for this addition to the curriculum, it’s easy to see why UCLA students asked for such a course. Serving the diverse population of Los Angeles, working with indigenous populations, and designing information access structures for communities across the world, MLIS students recognized the need to be aware of cultural and community differences in approaches to information. The UCLA MLIS program is an incredibly diverse one itself, hosting more ALA Spectrum Scholars than any other. IS students deserved (and demanded) that their education meet an important concern for their research, practice, and development as professionals. If you feel your curriculum doesn’t do the same, here are some ideas to make it happen: