I am a co-chair of our Multiculturalism Affairs Committee here at SLU Law, and our (faculty/staff/student) committee is in the midst of discussions about ways to enhance ‘cultural competence’ at SLU Law. One thought as to how to do so is to introduce changes into the curriculum, concertedly oriented towards exposing students to the legal and social issues faced, both historically and contemporarily, by racial minorities, immigrants, women, Native Americans, queer folk, the disabled, and others. Discussions are at a very preliminary stage, but different thoughts have already emerged about how best to better incorporate the teaching of cultural competence into the curriculum. Some people seem to favor adding ‘diversity elements’ to each 1L course; others favor some sort of separate, required first-year course aimed at getting students to think seriously about in/justice in the American legal system over time; while others want to see us add a ‘justice track’ to the curriculum which would culminate—after several courses and other prerequisites—in some sort of certificate or other recognition on one’s transcript. Of course, none of these are mutually exclusive.
I’m curious about other people’s experiences at other law schools with these kinds of curricular proposals. I’m aware that CUNY-Law has some sort of required 1L course on justice, and I would love to hear more from people there, and also anywhere else where people have at least discussed these sort of curriculum changes—even if no changes were ultimately made. What were the challenges you faced in instituting these kinds of curricular changes? Were they sustainable? Did they face opposition? From colleagues, or from students, or from other quarters? What changes did you see in your law school after adopting the kinds of curricular changes I’m discussing here? Thanks to everyone in advance for your comments and discussion.