Intergroup relations to introduce new minor

By Amabel Karoub, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 13, 2014

Beginning next semester, students will officially be able to minor in Intergroup Relations Education.

In addition to a formal minor designation, two IGR classes will count for the University’s Race and Ethnicity requirement for the first time.

The Program on Intergroup Relations, now in its 26th year, is a social justice program designed to foster discussion and learning about social identity and inequality. The program focuses on open discussions between students, as well as promoting leadership experience for the students who facilitate these discussions.

IGR’s seven courses have now been formalized into the minor, complete with core courses and multiple track options to fulfill the requirements. The minor involves a total of either eight or nine classes and totals between 19 and 22 credits.

IGR Co-Director Kelly Maxwell said the minor emerged in response to high student demand. IGR previously offered a Certificate of Merit for students who took a number of IGR courses, but students taking multiple classes in IGR wanted their experience to appear officially on their transcripts.

Over the past year, IGR has worked to develop a proposal and curriculum for the minor, which LSA approved this fall. Maxwell said the timing is particularly ideal, adding that it’s becoming increasingly important for students to communicate with others who have different identities.

“Students want opportunities for interaction across different groups — not just race, but other identities as well, and they get that in IGR,” she said.

LSA senior Sarah Berkman has already expressed interest in completing the new minor. As a Community Action and Social Change minor, Berkman has already fulfilled most of the credits required for the IGR minor. Berkman said CASC was their only option for students wanting to have a minor dealing with social justice. Now, students can explore both IGR and CASC and decide which minor is right for them.

“There are a lot of people in IGR dialogues and facilitating classes who decide to become CASC minors because a lot of the IGR classes fulfill CASC,” she said. “I think maybe some of those people now would do the IGR minor.”

While IGR administrators were structuring the new minor, they also planned to have an IGR class count for LSA’s Race & Ethnicity requirement. One of the two classes counting for credit is Intergroup Dialogues, listed as UC/PSYCH/SOC122. The course is three credits and it is one of two core classes for the IGR minor. However, the class is open to any student and the course will fulfill the RE requirement regardless of whether or not a student wants to minor in IGR.

Last year, members of the Black Student Union lobbied the University to enact a Race and Ethnicity requirement in every school and college.

In response, former CSG President Michael Proppe said the University should consider allowing IGR classes to fulfill Race and Ethnicity requirements. The comments were delivered at a meeting of the University’s Board of Regents shortly after the BSU launched their #BBUM campaign.

Maxwell said the only reason the course didn’t previously count for RE is because it was only two credits, and a course must be at least three credits to be considered. IGR was considering changing the course anyway because facilitators were commenting that two hours a week was not enough time for meaningful dialogue. Due to the changes that came with the minor, Maxwell said it was a good time to increase the course’s credit hours.

“With the changing demographic of our society, by 2042, there won’t be a majority racial group in the United States,” Maxwell said. “We have to be in a position to be able to understand cultural differences and be able to communicate inter-culturally in a way that acknowledges both the cultures that we come from and people from other groups.”

Corrections appended: A previous version of this article misstated the full name of the minor. It is a minor in Intergroup Relations Education. The article has also been updated to reflect that two IGR classes have been approved to satisfy RE requirements, not one.