Penn State's diversity studies certificate now available online

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s undergraduate-level certificate that focuses on exploring and overcoming social inequality is now available online, expanding access to all University students.

In the 12-credit undergraduate certificate in diversity studies, students will learn about societal differences related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, aging, religion and disability. The certificate is being offered online through Penn State World Campus in collaboration with the College of the Liberal Arts.

The certificate has been available to students at the University Park campus since 2017. Online learners can start taking courses for the certificate in January, at the beginning of the spring 2019 semester.

The curriculum was designed to help students recognize and reflect on the ethical challenges triggered by privilege, power and the inequalities of everyday life. They will learn how to respond to and confront these issues, said Laurie Spielvogel, teaching professor and director of the certificate program.

“Through a series of courses, we give them the tools to talk about the ways in which these identity markers operate in conflicting and overlapping ways to affect all of us,” Spielvogel said. “How do we talk about institutionalized power? How do we talk about privilege? We want to give them the vocabulary to debate these topics in a safe environment.”

The certificate consists of four courses. Students will be able to choose courses in subjects that align with their academic interests. Here is a breakdown of the curriculum:

  • All students must take Women’s Studies (WMNST) 105N, Living in a Diverse World, which looks at how conceptions of social differences have shaped everyday human interaction.
  • Students will choose one course among introductions to the topics of African-American studies, women’s and gender studies, and LGBTQ studies.
  • Students will choose the remaining two courses from a list of courses meant to expose them to diversity in a field that interests them or that they are studying.

Spielvogel said one of the benefits of this certificate is that it was designed to teach students to recognize these differences in other contexts or environments.

“These identity markers don’t operate in isolation,” Spielvogel said. “We feel like the importance of the certificate is how you apply it in your own field.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website to learn more about the diversity studies certificate.

Media Contacts: 

Mike Dawson

Work Phone: 
814-865-5818

408 The 329 Building, University Park, PA 16802

Last Updated September 13, 2018