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Global Challenges: Diversity



First-year programme.

Admissions requirements



“Diversity is a global challenge”. But, what does this mean? What diversity? Whose diversity? Why should we care about it? These are some of the key questions addressed in this course.

More often than not, people like and feel more comfortable with those who are alike, feeling in turn threatened by those who differ and that which is deemed unfamiliar, labelled as Other. This Other, in capital letters, is composed by a multiplicity of “others”, alterities that are contingent and time and space dependent, those “others” that are necessarily linked to what “we” consider normal.

Our modern societies are, in the jargon of social scientists, increasingly differentiated. Globalization has highlighted our differences and the contradiction between our need to identify and belong to discrete communities, and the fact that we live in highly anonymous, mixed, complex and mobile societies. New technologies and scientific advancements have increased our possibility to connect, yet there are a number of manifested fears attached to this possibility. The challenge of diversity is the challenge to learn how to deal with this “otherness”, those with whom “we” share nothing, except for the planet (and that’s not little!).

As you can imagine, there are many approaches to the question of diversity. This course is organized incorporating different disciplinary perspectives and methodologies blending in the Human Diversity major: from history to sociology and anthropology, from literary studies to journalism. The course approach to diversity is led by five discrete, but related, thematic units. The five themes we explore are key conventional markers of identity, thus they are relevant markers of diversity, in personal and social terms.

These thematic units are defined conceptually, but have vast concrete implications in our daily life. These themes give structure to our weekly units:

WEEK 1 – Framing the question: Why does diversity matter?
WEEK 2 – Gender: the tension between the individual and the social
WEEK 3 – Does race exist? Racism in today’s society
WEEK 4 – The pervasiveness of nationalism: old and new challenges
WEEK 5 – Qualities and inequalities of capitalism
WEEK 6 – Religion and the question of fundamentalisms
WEEK 7 – What is normal? Diversity as danger, diversity as shelter
WEEK 8 – Reading Week

Course objectives

The main objective of this course is to make students aware of the complexities inherent to define the question of diversity. By the completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Examine, question and position themselves regarding prevailing criteria about what is defined and considered to be normal (and by contrast what accounts as ‘different’).

  • Attain conceptual and empirical knowledge about the complex historical and socio-political process that make diversity a challenge in our contemporary societies.

  • Critically disclose these complexities from various disciplinary angles and based on different types of evidence: the ways in which history frames and explains these events, how literature provides narratives from an experiential perspective, and how theory informs the ways we conceptualise these experiences and events.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Biweekly meetings form the main body of this course:

  • Monday Plenaries: plenary lectures guarantee the introduction of knowledge on each weekly unit from different disciplinary perspectives and observing different types of evidence.

  • Wednesday Seminars: seminars offer the possibility to interactive learning, where each instructor clarifies the content delivered during the plenaries and the student’s questions. The instructor facilitates a conversation about the weekly topic, so student’s participation during the seminar is essential.


  • In-class participation, 10%, Ongoing

  • Weekly quizzes, 35% (5% each)

  • Visual (Re) presentation of diversity (in groups) 15%, Week 5

  • Final essay (3000 words), 40%, Week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Scholarly literature, journalistic reports, historical sources and literature will constitute the main sources of the course material, all available electronically on BB before the beginning of the course.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Daniela Vicherat Mattar (