An online petition incited by a class assignment is currently circulating the Boston College community to protest the argued injustice of the University’s core curriculum, which members of the petition deem to be Eurocentric—a tendency to interpret the world in terms of European values.
Theology professor Meghan Sweeney assigned a project to the students in her class called The Challenge of Justice. The task was essentially for the students to identify an injustice on campus. A group of four of these students recognized Eurocentrism in the core curriculum as an issue and decided to act on it as a part of its assignment.
This petition argues that the current courses offered for fulfillment of the history core at BC are predominantly taught from a Eurocentric perspective, and that this is an unfair approach to a well-rounded, liberal arts education because it ignores and degrades the influences of cultures outside of Europe.
On March 2, the Africa and African Diaspora studies department announced that Introduction to African Diaspora Studies will count toward the social science core, and African Diaspora in the World I and II will count toward the history core beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year.
“We are trying to add more classes to the history core at BC,” said Riley Kinney, one of the group members and MCAS ’18. “Eurocentrism creates a false hierarchy to European history over all other types of history, and we want our diverse student body to know that BC values their cultures equally as well.”
“We found that the BC history core is Eurocentric, and we believe that it is an injustice to not give students the choice to learn about other histories they may be interested in.”
—Riley Kinney, MCAS ’18
Eradicate Boston College Racism, a movement on campus, has played a key role as the inspiration for the creation of this petition. Members of the movement have created a Web site that they have used as a medium to discuss their goals for improving the BC campus. One of these goals is to “reform pedagogy and curriculum to reduce Eurocentric focus and address racism and diversity in the classroom.”
“The goal of our petition was to inform the student body of the injustice,” Kinney said.
In order to graduate from BC, students are also required to satisfy a cultural diversity component of the core curriculum. The courses offered for this requirement maintain a goal of “introducing students to different cultures and concepts of cultural identity and cultural differences.” In doing so, the courses work on “developing the students’ appreciation of other ways of life.” The group of students behind this petition, however, believes that such cultural awareness should be an intrinsic part of the basic history core. It asserts that making it a separate requirement presents the subject of cultural diversity as a devalued aspect of the undergraduate education.
Other members of this group include Elizabeth Waltman and Cat Driscoll, both MCAS ’18, and Pei-Ling Lee, MCAS ’19. The group has not found any other related problems in BC’s curriculum.
The petition was made on Change.org and has 73 signatures so far. If the petition receives its goal number of 100 signatures online, it will be sent to the University Core Renewal Committee for review.
“We found that the BC history core is Eurocentric, and we believe that it is an injustice to not give students the choice to learn about other histories they may be interested in,” Kinney said.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Archives