Build a More Inclusive Community

Explore development of undergraduate requirement on human difference

The faculty of Arts and Sciences will develop and consider, through usual faculty governance processes, a proposal for the creation of a general education requirement on human difference. 

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Work Group Recommendations: 

The student working group on diversity recommended the creation of both curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students to explore the facets of human difference. 

On the curricular side, the group suggested a variety of options, including: 

  • Creat a diversity course in first year, repurposing the first year seminar
  • Recruit diversity thought-leaders to campus
  • Add diversity- and inclusion-related questions to course evaluations
  • Create a pre-matriculation common core course for skill building in writing, math, study skills, personal finance, and communication
  • Offer a diversity and leadership course through Tuck for MBA students and undergraduates
  • Require undergraduates to complete senior thesis or culminating project 

In 2016, the Curriculuar Review Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences recommended that the existing World Cultures requirement be revised to more effectively engage students with issues of culture and identity. The relevant section of their report to the faculty is as follows:

  • The consensus of the committee is that issues involving culture and identity are vitally important, but that our current requirement does not effectively serve its intended purpose. It recommends replacing the current three-course requirement with a more carefully conceived one course requirement. Courses designated to satisfy this requirement should be relatively few in number - say 40-50 rather than 250.  Each of these courses should be designed to help students engage and understand a world of differences, whether they be about culture, race, ethnicity, soeicoeconomic status, gender, religion, or sexual preference. Committee members emphasized that these courses should teach students how to think about complex issues, rather than what to think about them. The overall goal is for students to be intellectually flexible, open-minded and respectful as they navigate a world that is simultaneously interconnected and diverse. The committee also recommends that students complete one of the designated courses in this category within their first two years at Dartmouth, and to consider its meaning and value, alongside the other distributive courses they choose, in the reflective documents they write at the end of sophomore year.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences accepted the Curriculum Review Committee's recommendation during its spring 2016 meeting, and tasked the Committee on Instruction to define the new requirement and devise a way to implement it. This work began during the fall 2016 term and is ongoing.

June 6, 2017 Update:

The Committee on Instruction drafted a proposal for the requirement of one course on theories of human differences (THD) as part of a package of reforms to the general education requirements. This proposal was then sent to the four divisional councils where the proposal is now on hold, pending inquiry into both this requirement as well as some of the other revisions to the general education requirements. As the COI has conculded their business for the year, this proposal will be taken up in the next academic year cycle.


As part of its revision of the general education requirements, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences approved in Spring, 2016, the replacement of the trio of world cultures requirements with a single course on Theories of Human Differences. The change was delayed, however, pending revision of the description of this requirement.  At the May 7, 2018 Faculty of Arts and Sciences meeting, the following description for the Theories of Human Differences requirement was approved, and this new requirement will be in effect for the classes of 2022 and later, provided all courses submitted for this requirement are reviewed in AY 2019 by the Committee on Instruction.

World Culture Requirment: Theories of Human Differences (one course) THD: Human differences are evident whenever and wherever people feel themselves to be different or are treated as such by others. Each course that meets this requirement has two objectives: first, to provide and in-depth understanding of some aspect of human difference, such as culture, history, geography, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexuality; and second, to engage in a systematic discussion and evaluation of relevant theories of human differences that enable students not only to see and understand differences that they might not otherwise recognize, but also to account for such differences in ways that both respect them and work to explain them. Such courses may have a single or comparative focus, but they all involve explicit considerations of theories and methods that enable students to think more systematically and critically about human differences.


All submissions will receive a reply.