U.S. diversity requirement prepares students for ‘culturally diverse global community’


A variety of classes across Iowa State count as U.S. Diversity requirements and International Perspective requirements.

Logan Metzger

As a way to add more diversity into the classroom and allow students a view into a culture outside of the one they were raised in, Iowa State has had a system of class credits in place since 1996.

One of Iowa State’s listed goals is “to prepare students to meet the challenges of responsible citizenship and effective professional roles in a culturally diverse global community.”

To help achieve this goal, all undergraduate students must fulfill graduation requirements in two areas, which are U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives.

The specific standards used to certify students’ fulfillment of these requirements varies from major to major, but all require three credits of course work, or the equivalent in some alternative academic experience, for each of the requirements.

In a lot of cases, courses used to meet the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives requirements can also be used to fulfill the general education requirements of the student’s college or requirements of the student’s major.

Students should meet with their advisers for details of the specifics in particular majors.

Students cannot use pass not-pass credits to meet these requirements. Credits obtained with a P mark cannot be used to meet the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives requirements.

“The focus of the U.S. Diversity requirement is the multicultural society of the United States,” according to the Office of the Registrar website. “Courses or alternative academic work used to meet the requirement address significant manifestations of human diversity and provide students with insights that enhance their understanding of diversity among people in the U.S.”

Through completion of the U.S. Diversity requirement, students will achieve at least two of the five learning outcomes.

These learning outcomes include:

  • articulate how their personal life experiences and choices fit within the context of the larger mosaic of U.S. society, indicating how they have confronted and critically analyzed their perceptions and assumptions about diversity-related issues.
  • analyze and evaluate the contributions of various underrepresented social groups in shaping the history and culture of the U.S.
  • analyze individual and institutional forms of discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc.
  • analyze the perspectives of groups and individuals affected by discrimination
  • analyze how cultural diversity and cooperation among social groups affect U.S. society.

“The focus of the International Perspectives requirement is the global community,” according to the Office of the Registrar website. “Its objective is to promote students’ understanding of cultural diversity and interdependence on a global scale.”

A period of immersion in a foreign culture is often a way of meeting these objectives, so Iowa State students often use study-abroad experiences as a means of fulfilling the International Perspectives requirement.

International students, because they are “studying abroad” from their home country’s perspective, are normally deemed to have met the International Perspectives requirement.

For U.S. military veterans who have completed at least 3 months of service stationed outside of the United States, they can have the International Perspective requirement waived.

Through completion of the International Perspectives requirement, students will achieve at least two of the five learning outcomes.

These learning outcomes include:

  • analyze the accuracy and relevancy of their own worldview and anticipate how people from other nations may perceive that worldview.
  • describe and analyze how cultures and societies around the world are formed, are sustained, and evolve.
  • analyze and evaluate the influence of global issues in their own lives.
  • describe the values and perspectives of cultures other than their own and discuss how they influence individuals’ perceptions of global issues and/or events.
  • communicate competently in a second language.

The approved course lists are found on the Office of the Registrar website here and here.

The final decision regarding the inclusion of a proposed course on either the U.S. Diversity or International Perspectives master list is made by the college curriculum committee of the department proposing the course and is based on the extent to which the course addresses the learning outcomes specified by the Faculty Senate.

A course cannot be approved for, nor can it appear on both the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives lists, according to the Office of the Registrar website.

Changes, deletions or additions to the lists originate with the departmental curriculum committees and then are approved by the appropriate college curriculum committee. Courses offered as dual-, co- or cross-listed courses must be reviewed and approved by all colleges in which these listings occur.

The submission of requests for existing courses to be added to either list must be submitted on the “U.S. Diversity Course Proposal” or the “International Perspectives Course Proposal” form found on the Office of the Registrar forms website under “For Departments.”

Once approved, the Office of the Registrar will add the designation to the course in the catalog and the online schedule of classes.