In Search of Multiculturalism: Uprooting 'Whiteness' in Curriculum Design and Pedagogical Strategies

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The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks rekindled debates on the validity of academic multiculturalism in U.S. higher education and, as such, signal a call to revisit problems with multicultural curricular design and pedagogical strategies. In reaction, this paper attempts to enrich dialogue surrounding academic multiculturalism by exploring the epistemological foundation, what I call an epistemology of 'whiteness,' that guides the design and instruction of multicultural curricula. I examine how 'whiteness,' as a way of knowing, is communicated in multicultural education. Specifically, I argue that multiculturalism often propagates rather than eradicates prejudiced understandings of the world because it is rooted in 'whiteness.' Curricular reform efforts generally take a surface-level approach to multiculturalism, which strengthens the conceptual errors that maintain 'whiteness.' These problems with multiculturalism, then, leave us in search of a multiculturalism that equally values all people and transforms how we, human beings, relate, understand, and interact with each other.


Keywords: Multiculturalism, Whiteness, Curriculum Reform, Pedagogy, U.S. Post-Secondary Education
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , , In Search of Multiculturalism


Sally J. Sayles-Hannon

Ph.D. Student, Cultural Foundations of Education, Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York, USA

Sally Sayles-Hannon recently finished her M.A. in Women's Studies and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. Her research interests include feminist/liberatory pedagogies, multicultural education, social justice education, feminist/indigenous epistemologies, social change theories, and curriculum design. Her most recent work on democratic education and feminist/liberatory pedagogies has been published in the International Journal of Learning and the International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations.

Ref: L09P0749