Loyola University Maryland

The Office of Academic Affairs

Diversity Course Requirement


Loyola University Maryland strives to increase student awareness of and critical understanding of three aspects of human diversity: differences across nations and world cultures, especially those outside the Western intellectual tradition; experiences of distinct minority groups in the United States; and justice-oriented movements or intellectual traditions that address diversity and systems of injustice. The purpose of the requirement is to meet the Core Values Statement call "to prepare students to dedicate themselves to diversity that values the richness of human society as a divine gift and to pursue justice by making an action-oriented response to the needs of the world." Further, the Diversity Course Requirement contributes to the university mission to "inspire students to learn, lead, and serve in a diverse and changing world” by introducing students to groups and histories that have been historically underrepresented in the Loyola curriculum. All students must complete one designated diversity course as part of the university’s graduation requirements. Diversity-designated courses bear a "D" in the course schedule on Loyola Self-Service and on a student’s Degree Audit. Faculty members apply for diversity designation under domestic diversity, global diversity, or justice awareness by submitting materials to a faculty committee of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (see below). Diversity is a university-level learning aim to which all segments contribute in some way. While courses throughout the curriculum can and should touch on diversity-related issues, official diversity course designation is reserved for those courses with particular depth of inquiry.

Application and Renewal Process

Initial Application

Decisions about which courses fulfill the diversity requirement are based on the degree to which a course design fulfills the definitions and learning aims for global awareness, justice awareness, or domestic diversity awareness, as outlined in the Diversity Course Requirement Aims and Outcomes. Decisions are made by faculty through the Diversity Course Requirement Committee (DCRC). The DCRC accepts Diversity Course Designation applications throughout the academic year and endeavors to process them promptly. Inquiries are always welcome. Ordinarily, applications received by the first week of November are eligible for designations beginning the following summer or fall, the last week of April for designations beginning the following spring. The UCC announces specific deadlines each year.

Note: As affirmed by the UCC, diversity designation applies to course materials developed and submitted by a faculty member, who is the contact person for renewal. Designation does not attach to a particular course number, for which there may be sections with and without diversity designation, and Departments cannot list “Staff” on the application to the DCRC. It is the Chair’s responsibility to assure that approved materials will be used in any given diversity-designated section.

Note: As affirmed by the UCC and ad hoc Senate committee, the focus of a given course must fall under one of the three categories: global, domestic, justice. That is, multiple designations are not possible, though the parallel language of the learning aims acknowledges that many courses will likely draw to some degree on multiple areas.


5-Year Designations
Faculty members must submit a renewal application for any diversity designation that is good for five years. The renewal process resembles the reflection process in annual reviews and acknowledges that faculty update courses in the context of new developments in the field and pedagogical innovations. The renewal process fulfills the mandate in the initial 2004 Academic Senate approval: “Five years after a course has been approved, the UCCS will review course materials and assessment data relating to the extent that the course meets the objectives of the diversity requirement, and recertify the course for another five-year period.”

Permanent Designations
For permanent diversity, a course needs to show significant diversity in one of the three categories in both the course title and description. This would give permanent diversity to the course regardless of the instructor. If the committee determines that the course name/description does not contain significant references to one of the three areas of diversity, a recent syllabus may also be examined to determine if there is significant diversity in a specific course with a specific instructor. In this case, the committee may choose to grant permanent diversity for that course with a particular instructor only. 

History of the Diversity Course Requirement at Loyola

The Diversity Course Requirement was adopted by the Academic Senate after a broad and collaborative effort among academic departments and individual faculty and administrators. After a series of faculty meetings to discuss the need for and nature of a diversity requirement for the campus in early 2002, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) invited faculty to submit full proposals for a requirement. During fall 2002, the UCC discussed three proposals and a survey of comparable university’s curricular diversity requirements, and decided to move forward with modifications of one of the proposals. Faculty committees and academic administrators contributed to revisions of the proposal through the spring 2003 semester, submitting a draft to the UCC in May 2003. Once the UCC approved the draft, it was forwarded to the Academic Senate in September 2003. After vigorous deliberation, the Academic Senate passed the proposed diversity course requirement in March 2004. The Diversity Course Requirement became a graduation requirement for all undergraduate students beginning with the Class of 2010.

In March 2010, the UCC Subcommittee on Diversity (UCCSD) undertook a comprehensive review of the requirement, including an audit of diversity-designated courses, survey data, and consultation of the original Senate documents. They issued a 60-page report that included several recommendations and appendices. (Report available from current UCC Chair.) The Academic Senate used that subcommittee report to create a charge for an ad hoc Committee to Review the Diversity Course Requirement.  That ad hoc committee: revised the definitions of the diversity categories, created related learning aims, affirmed that faculty must apply under one category, and devised a renewal process that mirror the application process (per original Academic Senate mandate). The committee also proposed two mandatory questions on the student evaluation form of any diversity-designated course, which can inform a faculty member’s reflection in the renewal process and may play a role in a future assessment of the university-wide diversity learning aim. After some debate and clarifications, the Academic Senate accepted the ad hoc committee’s report and approved the recommendations on December 4, 2012. The UCCSD began to use the new materials in spring 2011 and began the four-semester process of catching up on the backlog of renewals. The Office of Institutional Research administers the two diversity questions on student evaluation forms for all diversity-designated courses.

The UCC conducts periodic audits to assure sufficient offerings to enable students to graduate with reasonable planning, in consultation with academic deans who sit on the UCC. Assessment for individual courses happens at the Department level. Any future University-level assessment of the diversity learning aim should account for the significant contribution of the Diversity Course Requirement. As of 2022, the administration and vetting of applications is done outside of the UCC, in a standalone committee called the Diversity Course Requirement Committee (DCRC). The change was to allow DCRC members to focus on administering the DCR without the added labor and time burden of being a member of the UCC. The DCRC is also overseeing potential changes to the DCR, which is a time-intensive endeavor.