This fall, an Advancing Equity Requirement — approved by faculty in May 2022 — will be integrated into courses across major, minor and core curriculum courses.

The new eighth requirement in the core curriculum will begin with the class of 2027 and will also be required for students who change majors or switch to the new curriculum.

According to Elon University’s core curriculum, in AER-designated courses, students will complete four learning outcomes: to interrogate racial identities, connect race and identity to U.S. systems, evaluate systemic inequity and apply solutions to systemic racism. 

Randy Williams, vice president and associate provost for inclusive excellence, said Elon University students and alumni came forward to ask for a course on race and identity within the U.S.

“We've had a long-standing relationship with global education at Elon University,” Williams said. “But there has been a greater interest of students wanting to have a class that was more centered on domestic United States race, racism, and of course, its connection to other identities.”

AER-designated courses can be from any discipline but must be approved by a committee of faculty who work in the core curriculum, led by Jessica Carew.

Carew, assistant director of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Elon core curriculum, said in a session on the AER on Aug. 15 that there are 11 courses, with 15 total sections, already approved by the committee for the fall, most of which are in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

She said most AER approvals are on the section level rather than the course level because syllabi can vary within a single course, but one course has gained full approval — PSJ1100: Introduction to Poverty and Social Justice Studies. Carew also said the committee hopes to expand AER-approved courses, with a call for applications coming in early September.

“We are interested in encouraging more people across a variety of divisions but also across the different schools to apply for the AER,” Carew said.

This semester, Carew is teaching COR4600: Film, Race, and Politics — an AER-designated course that examines the pervasion of race in American film and politics, as well as the influence of various racial and ethnic groups on film.

“This is something that is specific to racial inequality, and racial inequity, within institutions and systems in the United States itself. We've done a lot of work over time here at Elon to engage in looking at the world broadly,” Carew said. “But what we don't really focus on what's happening in our own in our own space: locally, regionally, nationally.”

Naeemah Clark, associate provost for academic excellence, said she hopes every major will eventually have an AER-designated course. 

“My goal is that every department, or every school at least, has a required course that meets the AER,” Clark said. 

She said integrating an AER course into every major’s requirement will reduce stress on students worrying about where their AER class credit will come from. 

“If you're a healthcare major or exercise science major, there should be health equity that you're talking about anyway,” Clark said. “Label the class, get the designation for the year and then your students don't have to worry about it anymore.”

Clark also said Matt Buckmaster, executive director of the core curriculum, said he will not waive the AER, so upperclassmen should be aware of the requirements in the new curriculum before making any changes to their degree or curriculum. 

Williams said he wants this new addition to the curriculum to spark change within society. 

“My hope is that our students will be change agents toward remedying some of the societal issues that we face from historical and contemporary spaces with better knowledge,” Williams said. “Whatever the field or discipline may be, they will consider the work that they're applying these contents to in considering race and racism in our society.”