Understanding Diversity

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSY 125

       Course Name: Understanding Diversity

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Recommended: PSY 107 or PSY 110

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines the role that diversity and oppression play in our lives, in our communities and in society at large. Diversity issues in relation to culture, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language background, sexuality, gender and disability will be addressed. The course will examine prejudices, personal biases, and stereotypes, and is designed to promote advocacy and the creation of a just society.

IV.   Learning Objectives

By the end of this course the student will be able to:

  • Assess social problems and their dynamics within a cultural context.
  • Describe the interplay of identity based on culture, race and ethnicity.
  • Distinguish positive versus negative attributes of identity. 
  • Analyze by identifying their own culture, abilities, and personality styles as impacted by the dominant or prevailing standards of the society.
  • Use psychological theory in understanding the dynamics of oppression and discrimination, especially as they apply to populations at risk.
  • Recognize the interpersonal and organizational skills necessary to combat oppression and discrimination, by taking on an advocacy role geared to social change.
  • Apply the knowledge of multicultural psychology and cultural diversity to individual development and behavior.
  • Describe interactions among and between individuals and social systems.
  • Demonstrate cultural consciousness and competent by showing positive changes in attitude, behavior and skills.
  • Discuss and recognize that multicultural education is a life long process.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Diversity
    1. Culture, Ethnicity
    2. Assimilation, enculturation, and socialization
    3. Within and Between group differences
    4. Pluralism
  2. Identity Formation
    1. Racial identity development models
    2. Sexual orientation developments
    3. Gender identity development models
  3. Ethnocentrism
    1. Stereotypes
    2. Prejudice
    3. Discrimination
  4. Oppression
    1. Racism
    2. Sexism
    3. Ableism
    4. Ageism
    5. Anti-Semitism and other religious oppression
    6. Heterosexism
    7. Classism
    8. Power & Privilege
  5. Alliance Building
  6. Social Justice and Advocacy

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Readings, lecture, discussion, experiential exercises and guest speakers.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

This course relies on the student's ability to read and understand college-level text material.  Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical, as well as journal and reflection papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Representative Textbooks:

Readings for diversity and social justice: An anthology on racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, heterosexism, ablelism, and classism.  Eds. Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W., Castaneda, R., Hackman, H., Peters, M. & Zuniga, X. Routledge (2000)

Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of race, class, gender and Sexuality (2007)

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Individual instructors will determine their own grading and evaluation procedures.

Grading of written assignments will be based on the following criteria: organization of ideas, clarity of expression, ability to construct a coherent and persuasive argument in support of your ideas, solid command of relevant theory and research, ability to apply theory and research by way of example or experience. Grading is not based on student’s personal opinion or belief, but their ability to articulate their understanding of the theories and concepts presented in the course. All written assignments must be typed. Double spaced with fonts between 10-12 and must adhere to correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Informed classroom participation will be evaluated on the following criteria: student’s ability to articulate their understanding and familiarity with the reading assignments and lecture material in a relevant and thoughtful manner. Students will also demonstrate their willingness to participate as evidenced by volunteering for activities such as: reading out loud, participating in role plays, and participating in classroom exercises.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.