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Sociologist Troy Duster appointed to lead an expanded American Cultures program at UC Berkeley
28 Feb 2000

By Patricia McBroom, Public Affairs

BERKELEY--Troy Duster, professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, will lead the campus's American Cultures program with a promise of new money and new goals, UC Berkeley administrators announced today (Monday, Feb. 28).

The program's budget has been doubled, from $155,000 per year to $320,000, and the compensation paid for faculty to develop new courses during summer institutes has been tripled, said Duster, appointed as director of the Center for the Teaching and Study of American Cultures.

"We want to give this program a solid footing on the campus and then make it a national resource for people around the country who are really starving for new approaches to the study of American pluralism," said Duster.

Faculty members will be paid $6,250, instead of $2,000, for developing new course material during the summer. In addition, Duster will launch a Web site to make the American cultures scholarship broadly available.

"We are investing new resources to realize an expanded vision in the American Cultures program," said Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost. "I am thrilled that Troy Duster has agreed to become the leader of this very important campus program."

Duster, a UC Berkeley professor since 1969, has been a campus leader on racial issues for decades. He founded and directed for 17 years the Center for the Study of Social Change. In 1990, Duster led the "Diversity Project," a campus-wide study to assess the intercultural experiences of UC Berkeley students that was based on interviews with hundreds of groups.

UC Berkeley adopted an American Cultures breadth requirement for all undergraduates in 1989, and the first class was taught in 1991. Since then, more than 350 courses have been created that compare the experience and contributions of three ethnic groups in many different American environments.

UC Berkeley's approach differs from that of other universities with a multicultural requirement. Other models rely on one course taught many times or choose to expand a Western civilization requirement to include all the world's cultures.

At UC Berkeley, however, the multicultural requirement can be satisfied with curricula developed in any academic department, so long as every qualifying course compares three cultures drawn from five groups: European Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans and Chicano/Latino Americans.

A course on Cubans in Miami, for instance, would not focus just on Cubans, but might compare the interactions of Cubans, Haitians and African Americans with the local Anglo population, said Duster.

"We have the only well developed, imaginative program to consider the impact of different ethnic groups on American society," he said. "It's the most important curricular innovation of the last 30 years."

With nearly a decade of curricular development, UC Berkeley's American Cultures program has a wealth of information that many people in the country want to access, said Duster, adding, "We are going to join the 21st century and put this on a serious Web site."


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