One of the primary goals of the Middlesex curriculum is to provide intentional programming that offers a variety of cultural experiences and reflects the diverse nature of our community.
At Middlesex, the term “global” not only applies to the geographical and cultural spaces beyond Middlesex, but it also encompasses the breadth and complexity of the Middlesex Community. We believe that global awareness and competence is a lifelong process, the roots for which should be planted and cultivated both in and outside of our classrooms, on campus, and around the globe. Middlesex is committed to preparing all students with the skills, content, and experiences to become global citizens who will grow to become comfortable with the discomfort that often comes with negotiating the world outside of their own immediate experiences. The most notable infusion of global education into our curriculum has been the addition of a new course called “Dialogues Across Differences.” Developed together by the Director of MxGlobal, the Director of Multicultural and Community Development, the Director of Mindfulness, and the Director of Spiritual and Ethical Education, “Dialogues Across Differences” is a required freshman course that meets weekly for one semester.
The English Department continues to strive for proactive, lasting, and profound changes that develop and deepen an anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy. The Department believes that anti-racist education mandates decolonizing our curriculum and creating deliberate spaces in our classrooms to foster and encourage inclusive, anti-racist dialogue. The department has worked to expand and develop both its texts and its pedagogy.
The study of foreign languages at Middlesex seeks to develop real world utility through comparative cultural connections and a newfound respect for other perspectives, ideas, and values. It is a goal of the language departments to challenge students’ own cultural biases to yield a sense of their own cultural identity and a greater understanding of themselves and the larger world, both now and in their futures.
In the Social Sciences and History curriculum students are asked to consider the multivariate perspectives of social, economic, or political systems to help our students develop global awareness as they learn about the world, its people, and challenges. The recent shift to Early and Modern World History in the sophomore history curriculum is a positive way to embrace a more global and non-Western perspective that reflects the trends of the academic world and promotes the awareness and appropriate foundations for a 21st century global education.
Our Theatre program relates especially to the mission’s focus on the rich diversity of belief and experience each of us brings to the School. Diversity and multicultural issues are very much a factor in choosing plays for the stage and for our courses. Plays that explore gender, diversity, and multicultural issues work to create a vibrant theatre program and enrich the School: good plays make the private public, offering windows into aspects of everyday life that are often unseen. The Department searches for plays and follows casting practices that offer a variety of strong roles to women and actors of color. The visual arts department, meanwhile, has partnered with the Ishibashi Gallery to showcase the intersectionality of art and identity.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in our curriculum: a sample of courses
GLOBAL 10. Dialogues. Spring. The Department. 1 meeting weekly. All members of Class IV and new students in Class III are enrolled in this course. This six-week nonacademic credit course aims to teach students how to have difficult conversations about world topics using language that is compassionate, analytical, and free of judgment. Students will be introduced to contemporary content from around the world that addresses issues of conflict including, but not limited to, race, gender, religion, cultural appropriation, sexuality, and class. The purpose of the course is to begin the process of preparing students for unfamiliar situations they will find themselves in. This unfamiliarity includes traveling to other parts of the country and world, and speaking with people of different languages, cultures, identities, or values, and working or interning which require interaction with people from different backgrounds. By the end of the course, students will have begun to develop the cross-cultural competency skills needed to enter and function in an increasingly global community and workforce.
GLOBAL 30. Citizenship and Civil Societies. Fall. The Department. 1 meeting weekly. Citizenship is an advanced seminar for juniors whose aim is to give students the history, tools, and comfort to become more proactive citizens in the global communities to which they belong. This nonacademic credit course will run concurrently with juniors’ US history (non-AP and AP) course for eight weeks. Ultimately, we hope that students become more empathetic and active citizens who, when paired with their Mindfulness, Dialogues, and other community-life work, are able to recognize the many layers of citizenship: Awareness of ourselves as citizens; interaction and dialogue with other citizens with whom we do and do not identify; proactive, civic engagement within our communities. Each week will cover a different element of citizenship and will roughly coincide with students’ discussions of citizenship in US history, beginning with the arrival of European settlers and moving through the Jackson Era. Students will also develop their citizenship skills across their national, global, and digital communities.
HISTORY 50. Afro-American History. Fall. Mr. Whitlock. 4 meetings weekly. Distributional credit in the Social Sciences or the Humanities. This course will explore the African-American experience from the seventeenth to the late twentieth centuries. Using primary and secondary sources, students will hear the stories, explore the cultures and delve into the causes and effects of slavery in Colonial America, and explore the black presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Students will learn about the complex interplay of freedom and restriction in the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. Modern African-American History focuses on the struggle to dismantle segregation against the forces of resistance through the World War periods, culminating in the advances of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Students will deepen their understanding of the complexities of color, class, and race in United States History.
HISTORY 56. Global Studies. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Distributional credit in the Social Sciences or the Humanities. Global Studies is a one-semester course which will introduce students to the study of globalization. Global Studies aims to help students develop tools and language to help better equip them to understand and navigate the complexities of our ever-connected and quickly-changing world. Through the study of history, geography, politics, philosophy, economics, and religion students will be introduced to an interdisciplinary understanding of contemporary issues such as migration, justice, and culture, to name a few. Students will have the opportunity to supplement their readings and class discussions with current events. By the end of the course, students will have a more focused idea on how to think through the experiences of others, both on campus and around the world.
RELIGIOUS STUDIES 48. World Religions. Fall. Ms. Smedley. 4 meetings weekly. Distributional credit in the Social Sciences or the Humanities. Why is the Zen Master laughing? What is the significance of the Muslim Hajj? What am I to make of the fantastic, multiple-armed images of Gods in the Hindu tradition? This semester-long course will introduce you to five major world religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – as well as the study of religion as an academic discipline. We will examine the central symbols, doctrines, and practices of each religion by reading both primary and secondary sources as we travel through vastly different cultures, countries, and centuries. Daily discussions will be an integral part of the class experience and academic assessment, and students will write a series of analytical and reflective essays.
ENGLISH 46. In Search of the American Dream. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby interrogates the notion of the American Dream—the myth that an individual can cultivate his own happiness and prestige with the right combination of ambition, work, and self-determination—but what does the American Dream look like beyond Gatsby? What does the American Dream look like to individuals, or to marginalized groups, who have historically existed beyond the dominant narrative? We will encounter characters whose actions are often determined by their shifting relationship to the American Dream, as they come to recognize that dream as illusory or as they articulate what they have likely known all along—that the American Dream may not apply to them. Readings will include Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Tommy Orange’s There There. We will also consider a selection of short stories, by such writers as Flannery O’Connor, Sherman Alexie, or William Faulkner.
ENGLISH 55. Postcolonial Literature. In this course, we will explore and engage with voices beyond the Western literary canon. We will read fiction and nonfiction by a diverse group of writers, including India’s Arundhati Roy, Haiti’s Edwidge Danticat, Nigeria’s Chimamanda Adichie, Kenya’s Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and Antigua’s Jamaica Kincaid. We will consider how these writers attempt, through language and storytelling, to reclaim their own home spaces and places in a post-colonial era. We will reflect on the ways in which geography, history, and culture shape and define the fictional experiences and characters we encounter, and perhaps most importantly, we will consider how our own cultural perspectives inform our understandings of what we read.