a class divided 4

The goal of this lesson is to help you begin to understand how difference can lead to disparities in the life experiences of people. This is a key learning objective of the course, and of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DISJ) requirement of the University Core Curriculum.

A Class Divided is a documentary on third-grade teacher Jane Elliott’s “blue eyes/brown eyes” exercise, originally conducted in the days following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Reflect deeply on the events shown in the documentary, drawing upon your prior knowledge and experiences (personal, from other courses, and in this course). Please respond to the following questions:


Section 1: General Reactions

§What did you learn?

§What scene or scenes do you think you will still remember a month from now and why those scenes?

§Describe any part of the film that surprised you.

§Describe any parallels that you drew between the “blue eye/brown eye” exercise and society.

Section 2: Definitions

At the beginning of the last class, groups of students provided the following definitions to the given terms:






Having the ability to draw upon various credible sources (Note: you must cite any source that informs your thinking) revise the definitions to more accurately reflect your understanding of the terms. After each definition, develop an example, drawing on the documentary, to help explain the meaning of the term.

Section 3: Understanding Privilege, Power and Difference

Read the following articles located in the Resources section of the Blackboard. Add an entry for each in your annotated bibliography

§McIntosh, P. (2003). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. In Understanding prejudice and discrimination. (pp. 191–196). New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

§Johnson, Allan G. (2001). Privilege, power, and difference. Boston :McGraw-Hill

§Hankivsky, O. (2014). Intersectionality 101 (Vol. 64).

Section 4: Connections to Engineering

§In the section: What Privilege Looks Like in Everyday Life, Johnson lists examples of the privileges experienced by Whites over Non-Whites. Using his list as a model, develop your own list of the privileges experienced by engineers / engineering students

§Engineers in the United States are affiliated with other identities that are privileged in the US society. For the majority of people who comprise the engineering profession in the US, consider what other identities are most prominent in terms of race & ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic status, ability, etc.) Look at the following resource for insights on the composition of the engineering workforce in the US – https://datausa.io/profile/cip/14/#.

§What are the implications of the power experienced by US engineers due to the privileges of the profession and the privileged identities of the dominant members of the profession? Who may be conversely oppressed as a result? How does this impact the way engineering is practiced?

Section 5: Who are you?

In the section, Mapping Difference: Who Are We, Johnson maps his identity using categories from the outer ring of the Diversity Wheel. Describe your own identity using the categories in both the inner and outer ring of the Diversity Wheel.

Imagine, for example, that you woke up tomorrow morning and found that one of your identities from the inner circle was different from what it was when you went to bed.

§ How would that affect your life experiences (consider how people will perceive you and treat you, how you would see yourself, the material circumstances of your life such as where you live, how much money you have, the education you can access, the opportunities that you would have access to)

§In what ways would the change make life better? / Worse?

. (See attachment for the wheel)

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