Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Virginia Cassidy
Virginia Cassidy

To obtain a print-quality JPEG of this photo, contact the Office of Public Affairs at (815) 753-1681 or e-mail

News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

October 30, 2007

New online publication ‘Multiculturalist’ focuses
on multicultural curriculum transformation at NIU

DeKalb — For 13 years, Northern Illinois University faculty and staff have gathered each spring to learn more about making their courses multicultural in nature.

Now they have a way to read about that process and learn what others are doing.

“The Multiculturalist,” a new online publication of the Office of the Provost, made its debut last week. The semiannual publication will contain information on the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, interviews with faculty, book reviews, helpful resources at NIU and important dates.

In the first issue, Lisa Finkelstein, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, shares a good method for setting the tone for multiculturalism in the classroom. Sherry Fang, associate professor in the School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, speaks about her “powerful” experience with the institute.

“We wanted to have a way to keep that opportunity to participate in the institute before the campus,” said Virginia Cassidy, vice provost for academic planning and development.

“We also wanted to provide a means for communication related to multicultural curriculum transformation issues to the campus, and this is a great forum. We can distribute it electronically, which is very cost-effective in getting information out, and it’s posted on our Web site so people can go back and look at past issues,” Cassidy said. “We’re trying to highlight people on campus who’ve had experience with multicultural curriculum transformation so that the rest of the campus community can know who these people are.”

“Ours is a fast-moving culture,” added Donna Askins, the publication’s editor. “We expect people can browse through it quickly to finds tools they can use or information of interest.”

Internet users around the world also should find links to “The Multiculturalist” when searching online for more information on curriculum transformation topics.

Those who click on the link pointing to NIU will discover a university that takes seriously its commitment to multicultural curriculum transformation.

A September report prepared by Robin D. Moremen, professor of sociology, and Michael J. Gonzales, professor of history and director of the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, assesses the impact of the annual institute on NIU faculty and students.

Compiled at the request of Provost Ray Alden, the report examines the years 2001 through 2006. The institute did not take place in 2004.

Eighty-six faculty, staff and instructors took part during those years, the greatest percentages from the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Education. Twelve have left NIU since.

The 74 others, however, have transformed 132 courses. Ninety-three were undergraduate courses, and 11 of those were general education classes.

Seven hundred and seventy sections of these classes were taught since 2001 with a total enrollment of 19,639 students. About 4,000 students per year have taken courses transformed by the institute. One quarter of all undergraduates currently enroll in at least one general education course transformed by the institute.

“One of the things we’ve learned about faculty who’ve come to the institute – they pick a course they’re going to transform as part of the requirements of the institute – is that they also transform other courses they teach. It’s a domino effect, if you will,” Cassidy said.

“Multicultural curriculum transformation is a process. It’s not an overnight switch. It occurs along a spectrum,” Askins said. “People can try something, and then they can take a step, and then they can take another step.”

Cassidy and Askins welcome any input, including multicultural methodology and success stories, regarding “The Multiculturalist.” They’re also eager for questions.

“That can help us. Typically, if one person has a question, then other people have a question,” Cassidy said. “People also can point us in the direction of other people with good ideas.”

For more information about the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, call (815) 753-8557 or e-mail

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