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Originally published June 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM | Page modified June 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

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Editorial: Prepare students for diverse world at University of WAshington

Preparing college graduates to navigate a diverse world is a basic of a liberal-arts education.

Seattle Times Editorial

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THE University of Washington’s new requirement next year that undergrads complete a course focused on diversity reflects its obligation to educate students broadly.

The shift is a response to efforts over the years by mostly minority students concerned their fellow students were not learning enough about other cultures.

But the broader value of the UW’s change is to open minds and expand the contemporary definition of diversity from just being about race relations to a reflection on social, political, geographic and economic differences.

UW students come from all over the world. The campus benefits when diversity is acknowledged and understood. This is a universal notion and the UW joins other institutions, such as Washington State University, in requiring a diversity course.

College graduates will enter an increasingly global work force. Prospective employers can be located in America or Asia. Understanding differences has become an important skill set.

Two-thirds of UW students already grasp the importance of diversity and take classes that would satisfy the new requirement. All students should look forward to a lifetime of recognizing and understanding the vast world around them.

The K-12 system has a role in preparing students to think deeply about the different variations of diversity. It is for that very reason that Seattle Public Schools should overcome its discomfort about a Race and Social Justice class at the Center School.

But learning about the diverse world around us truly starts at the beginning of our academic lives with early learning.

That’s reason to laud PBS’ recent 30-minute Sesame Street segment about children who have a parent in jail. One in 28 kids has an incarcerated parent. Yes, the show reminds us, families come in all shapes, sizes and circumstances.

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