The statistically diverse curriculum

It’s important to present undergraduate students with a wide variety of view points. But in my view the diversity of viewpoints is a means, not an end in itself. At the very least, it’s a path to learning how to evaluate arguments, and broaden sensibilities in a very Oakshottian way.

It seems obvious to me (and perhaps I am mistaken) that curricula should be structured around considerations other than mere diversity. After all “fields” of scholarship have formed around the types of conversations that develop when scholars try to learn about some aspect of the universe. There is a structure to knowledge and how it is generated, if only because of the particular history of particular inquiries about the world.

Yet, somehow in every curriculum conversation I have been involved in, I get significant pushback from those that view diversity as an end itself. To put the matter to rest I present the statistically diverse curricula. For the liberal arts core, let’s randomly assign courses and readings to each student such that the average student has the maximally diverse curriculum. The average student will be well rounded. We can even draw courses and readings from some weighted distribution to avoid a bias stemming from viewpoints that have been the most dominant throughout history. I doubt this would satisfy, or even make sense, for those that defend diversity of viewpoints as an end in itself. If the statistically diverse curricula is a no go, then diversity of viewpoints as an end in itself should be a no go as well.

One thought on “The statistically diverse curriculum

  1. Joy October 16, 2020 / 8:02 am

    You are making me think that every year students should be assigned one book that is bad. It has bad writing or poor arguments. That way students will stop taking all these good books we assign for granted!


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