Syllabi and Diversity

Luvell Anderson and Verena Erlenbusch have a really useful article, “Modeling Inclusive Pedagogy: Five Approaches,” appearing in the Journal of Social Philosophy. In it, they canvass five conceptually distinct approaches to making syllabi, and thereby course content, more diverse. Their taxonomy of approaches clarifies the advantages and disadvantages of each, but also illuminates the metaphilosophical aspects of diversifying courses. E.g., are diverse practitioners principally being employed as critics of the standard fare and approaches? Is the conceptual architecture itself reflective of diverse philosophical concerns or are diverse voices being brought to bear on a traditional core set of questions?

The essay as a whole does much to clarify what sorts of embedded assumptions or concerns can render diversifying a syllabus challenging. Anderson and Erlenbusch don’t provide any quick or easy resolution to these challenges, but that’s sort of the point. This is one of those cases where simply mapping out the landscape of possibilities and naming the rough terrain in each helps a lot. Do check it out!

4 thoughts on “Syllabi and Diversity

  1. Great resource – thanks!
    The analysis of the importance of diversity in syllabi (and how to achieve it) could be usefully applied, I think, to thinking about problems of diversity in blogging. Here’s a blog over at Aeon discussing hierarchy (‘In defense of hierarchy’), in which 14 of the 15 invited blog posts are by men:

    Among them, Anthony Appiah, Matthias Risse, Mark Bevir…..My first reaction is to wonder if this is a joke: a discussion by 14 men and 1 woman discussing the possible validity and benefit of hierarchies? But apparently it’s for real.

  2. Hi, Monique, I agree about the hierarchy piece and the composition of its authors. I did raise this a few days ago with Steve Angle, one of the authors. Our exchange is here: I don’t know all of the contributors and haven’t contacted them, but have heard from both Steve and Justin Tiwald that they too find this a problem. More generally, while Berggruen, the organization supporting various philosophical initiatives including this one, seems to be ahead of the curve for including global philosophers and behind the curve for women. Its boards, both academic and advisory, are overwhelmingly though not exclusively male – see here: and

  3. Wow, that is really something – the advisory board is nearly all male, and the academic board has only a small number of women too. How odd. Steve’s response to you certainly struck the right (non defensive) tone – but he didn’t explain how it transpired that 14/15 of the co-authors were men. I’d really love to know who coordinated the article and why they thought that was okay. Perhaps the absence of some of the women associated with Berggruen was not a coincidence – a few of them that I know would be unlikely to sign on to the article, I think (Philip Pettit’s response on Aeon gets at some of the reasons why).

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