Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

Through the lens of education, this class will examine how systems of power and privilege pathologize difference and diversity and, alternatively, the approaches of resistance that enact liberating practices by engaging in a productive and affirmative power of difference. In order to analyze difference and diversity, the course operates from two standpoints. First, we’ll interrogate the narrative that education is simply either a site of neutrality or a tool working against repression. Second, we’ll look at how difference and diversity themselves are constructed. This means that social, cultural, historical, philosophical, economic, and political entanglements influence their development and enactment. As such, difference and diversity can also then be deconstructed and reconstructed. Additionally, as a Power, Privilege, and Diversity (PPD) course,2 we will pay particular attention to the ways in which education, broadly considered, both actively and passively participates in maintaining power, oppression, and privilege in the United States. I say “broadly considered” because education is not limited to traditional modes and formal environments of schooling—in fact, the narrative that formal schooling is the primary mode of education is one example of how difference is (re)produced. Our study of difference engages several overlapping themes: the production of subjectivity, the body, how power operates and is produced, and the role of stories and archives. We will begin by examining the theoretical and historical foundations that frame the contemporary production of difference in educational discourse and practice, including how they inform related power dynamics. We’ll explore how this particular production of difference creates boundaries of race, sex, and class in education and schooling. We’ll then turn from the continental United States towards the Pacific to see how these same productions of difference, diversity, privilege, and power are translated within the context of Hawai‘i. Throughout the course we’ll consider how archives themselves can perpetuate difference, often through the absence of those voices who have been historically underrepresented and marginalized.

Student Outcomes

Upon successful course completion, students will be able to . . . 1. describe how difference is produced in context of systems and institutions of power; 2. identify and analyze key educational debates and issues in relation to the production of difference and diversity, articulating their positions critically and reflectively; 3. demonstrate an ability to engage topics of power, privilege, diversity, and difference with curiosity, creativity, integrity, and growth through the completion of three course projects; and from the University Learning Goals, 4. “understand and appreciate cultures, languages and groups different than their own and regularly reflect on domestic and global issues of power, privilege and diversity.”1