The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Carol Mohrbacher

Second Advisor

Robert Inkster

Third Advisor

Joseph Edelheit

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Pluralism, English, Teaching, Higher Education, Ethical Revolution


The principle claim of this thesis is that professors ought to encourage pluralistic approach in the university classroom through their course content selection and pedagogy. In the introductory chapters I identify the relevant issues and problems with diversity, including the social problems which lead me into this topic as well as current studies pertaining to the effect on students of exposure to diversity in college courses. I address the reasons exposure to diversity is desired, and establish that while it may be an admirable goal, it is ineffective and unsuccessful. Thus, my conclusion is that we ought to focus on incorporating a pluralistic approach over mere diversity education methods.

In order to focus the discussion, I use St. Cloud State University as a foil. By looking at SCSU's current methods of diversity education, I assess the effectiveness of the current policies regarding this issue including an analysis of individual versus group responsibility, including several studies conducted at St. Cloud State University. I also explain why the concept of pluralism is preferred over current diversity ideology. Of importance is the fact that while I detest the use of the term "diversity" it will, of necessity, have to be used when discussing these issues.

The literature review demonstrates why university professors can and should encourage pluralism, and includes a review of literature pertaining to this topic that both supports and opposes my position. In addition, three main points are addressed 1) why acceptance and respect for pluralism is important, 2) why the instructor should be responsible for encouraging it, 3) what more can be done to incorporate pluralism into the college classroom. Aristotle's virtue theory is used to explain why the classroom setting can do the most to foster respect for pluralism.

Next I include a section which describes how to apply a pluralistic approach in the college classroom. I identify common problems teachers face when trying to incorporate diverse material, and offer suggestions to aid them in applying my theory. The method section includes a brief review and discussion of participants of my research on incorporating a pluralistic approach in a college course. I then model the process for setting up a pluralistic course by explaining what the text selection process would be, and how each text hopes to achieve my goal of plurality over diversity.

Finally, in the remainder of this paper I demonstrate how specific texts and films can be approached to foster pluralism in courses by providing an extensive analysis and discussion of ho~ several other texts/ films might be used in a pluralistic course, and recording the results of how I used the film Waltz With Bashir in one of my courses.


Much credit for the completion of this project lies with my incredible and supportive parents, Bruce and Diane Smith, and husband Jim Kath, who all encouraged and respectfully responded to my endless questions from day one. Equally as influential were my professors and mentors who so perfectly embody the principles that I hope to illuminate in this paper. Without their guidance, encouragement and support, both academic and psychological, this paper would never have been completed, or for that matter, even begun. Thank you, Professors Carol Mohrbacher,Joseph Edelheit, and Robert Inkster.

In approaching a text, it is important to get an understanding of the author's context. The author, as well as the reader, brings to the text their current state of mind, and a reflection, albeit sometimes unrecognized, of their lifelong experiences and surroundings. These are the subtleties which infuse the text, from the topic selected, to the manner in which it is presented. I think it will soon become abundantly clear that I value critical analysis, as well as strongly believe that there is nothing too sacred to be withheld from a deep and searching evaluation of its true value. As a graduate from St. Cloud State University, I want to be clear that while this paper at times takes a critical perspective of this college, SCSU is a wonderful educational institution. I only wish to bring some more suggestions, theories, and ideas to the table, and add another viewpoint to the discussion on curricula selection.