Dirigo- “I lead” is The State of Maine’s motto. Under the direction of Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Student Life and the College of Education and Human Development have embodied Maine’s motto. Through the creation of an innovative peer education curriculum that works across structural and cultural barriers we are leading a way to a new Maine.
For the past three years the Office of Multicultural Student Life and the Rainbow Resource Center has partnered with the College of Education and Human Development to conduct a pilot program through an established credit bearing course- Education in a Multicultural Society (EDB 202). Required of Elementary, Secondary, Kinesiology and Physical Education, Child Development and Family Relations-Early Childhood option, Art, and Music Education majors EDB 202 is an interdisciplinary and multicultural examination of the school-society relationship in the United States. Participants examine their own and others’ assumptions about multiculturalism, globalization, and the political, economic, ecological, social, ethical and academic purposes that shape teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.
Pathway 4 of the Blue Sky Plan provides the commitment to transforming lives and strengthening the UMaine undergraduate student experience by making international and/ or cross-cultural opportunities central to the undergraduate experience.
Education in a Multicultural Society exposes students in the College of Education and Human Development to members of diverse multicultural communities right here at UMaine. The EDB 202 pilot project creates the opportunity for peer education in an intimate conversational setting not otherwise found in a typical collegiate classroom. The intimate conversational setting allows for open questioning, assumption challenging, and reality testing- resulting in a transformational experience.
The ethos of the EDB 202 pilot project aligns with the College of Education and Human Developments commitment to curriculum that prepares graduates “…to foster healthy, caring and fair learning environments and relationships for all individuals in their educational and other work contexts.”
Through the partnership of Student Affairs and the College of Education and Human Development we have created a peer to peer cultural experience that has impacted over 200 students. At the end of the three sessions students were asked for their evaluation, 80% of students strongly agree that this kind of conversation should be offered to all UMaine’s students. One student commented “I thought this program was very eye opening and extremely useful. I would suggest it to more people, not just people going into education but anyone going into a profession working with people”. As future educators 81% of students believe the content of the class was useful. Another student recounted, “I felt like I was aware of much of these things, but there’s a lot of power in exploring them in depth, and they all made me think more than anything has”. Further illustrating the need for education on topics of socioeconomic status, gender identification, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity 46% of students found the information presented new to them. There is also an empowering reciprocal component to the EDB 202 pilot project, our peer facilitators gain teaching experience and have a hand in shaping UMaine’s cultural climate. Peer facilitators evaluate the course through short answer questions; one facilitator said “teaching this class seemed like an opportunity that I could not pass. My peers, brothers and graduate advisors all spoke highly of this class. This class also addressed issues that, to me, were very relevant.”
More information on EDB can be found be contacting the Office of Multicultural Student Life.
Image Description: Group of students at a table