Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Global Citizens: How to Integrate a Curriculum

“The curiosity within us fuels endless discovery”
This is the first statement that appears under the academics tab at the University of Richmond’s website.

Cleary, the University of Richmond has a long history educating in the liberal arts tradition. The University of Richmond’s website describes a liberal education as “the foundation of self government and free societies," and then says that a “liberal education is essential to building a knowledgable citizenship- nationally and globally.” While this branding is current, the University's definition of a liberal arts education clearly has shifted over time. In it's 1981 workshop on the liberal arts, the University's proposal for inclusion in a workshop on liberal arts education remarked that it was "committed to Judeo-Christian values," among other goals that promoted intellectual freedom and creativity. 

While the focus has shifted to cover a more global landscape and to move away from a sheer Western bias, many of the departments on campus still carry a heavy Western and European focus. This includes departments such as philosophy, which contains no non-Western courses. There still exists no Black, Urban, or Ethnic studies program of study here, and students who want to study that information are encouraged to take American Studies. Several peer institutions listed on the website, such as William & Mary, Bucknell, and Middlebury, offer specific departments that specialize in Africana or African American Studies for students to engage with. In order to create national and global citizens, students should be educated in a way that brings light to other cultures, recognizes the legacy of racism in this country, and studies history, culture, and abstract thought in an accurate and fair way.

The University has a long history of attempting to integrate the curriculum. This exhibit discussed two instances of their attempts to do so. The first is the debate over Western Civilizations as a required course, which was mandated until 1991 (when It was replaced by Core). Second is a donation in 1967 that was intended to institute a Black Studies program, one that never came to fruition.

Credits

This exhibit was created by Meghna Melkote ('22) as part of an A&S Summer Fellowship in summer 2019.