Group of Japanese Americans being evacuated from Hood River, Oregon, 1942, during the time of Japanese-American internment. Courtesy of Oregon Multicultural Archives.
Members of Oregon State's Black Student Union participate in a walkout in 1968 to protest policies that forced a black football player to shave his beard. Courtesy of Oregon Multicultural Archives.

This text is taken from the first chapter of Teaching for Change: The Difference, Power, and Discrimination Model (Xing, Li, Roper & Shaw, 2007) titled “A History of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination Model at Oregon State University” (Gross & Nishihara, 2007). Teaching for Change: The Difference, Power, and Discrimination Model is available through OSU Libraries, and can also be purchased from the publisher, Lexington Books.

For over 20 years, the Difference, Power, and Discrimination program at Oregon State University has worked to create an inclusive curriculum that addresses institutionalized systems of inequity and privilege in the United States.

Group of Asian American students posing for photo

Hui-O-Hawaii student organization, from the 1967 Beaver Yearbook. Courtesy of Oregon Multicultural Archives.

Issues of discrimination at Oregon State

The DPD program, which is housed in the Office of Academic Affairs, was created in response to demands from students. Following a series of racially motivated incidents and recurring complaints about the chilly climate in OSU classrooms, in 1990, a coalition of student leaders prepared and delivered a letter to then-president John Byrne outlining six proposals for ways to address the aforementioned issues.

Faculty involvement

In response to the student’s demands, a Faculty Senate Committee was formed in fall 1991 to explore the possibility of curricular change that would address the climate and repeated acts of racially motivated violence on campus. This committee eventually proposed the Difference, Power, and Discrimination program. Addressing issues of discrimination and systems of oppression, the proposed program was comprised of two parts: a selection of courses from across the curriculum that would be listed as a DPD category in the Baccalaureate Core general education requirements, and a faculty development component.

The proposal was approved in spring 1992, and the first faculty seminar was held during the summer of 1992. This seminar enabled faculty to develop courses for the DPD category of the Baccalaureate Core, a requirement for all first-year students who entered OSU beginning in 1994 and all transfer students who entered beginning in 1996.

Marchers in a 2004 demonstration carry the Cesar Chavez "Viva La Causa" banner. Courtesy of Oregon Multicultural Archives.

Student influence

Student activism once again positively impacted the DPD program in 1998. A group of students and faculty mounted a successful protest, including a student petition, against the defunding of the DPD program that had been a possibility during university budget discussions.

Creating today’s DPD program

Additional changes within the Baccalaureate Core in the late 1990s required that DPD courses must create environments for students to critically examine personal beliefs and actions in a classroom dedicated to tolerance and civil discussion, and that DPD courses focus on issues and topics that existed in the United States.

Continue to explore the DPD program by learning how to propose a DPD course, viewing a variety of teaching resources, and discovering different professional development opportunities.