In the study, the curricula of three selected dance departments in the United States, whose stated missions embrace cultural diversity, are examined. The primary research question is: Do the curricula of selected dance departments in the United States reflect the values of cultural diversity or pluralism as explicitly expressed in their mission statement? Through random online sample of thirty-nine mission statements from non-conservatory-based dance departments that grant degrees in the field of dance was collected. Although the use of the term diversity expanded greatly throughout the late 20th century, a delimitation of this study was to focus on cultural diversity as it relates to race and ethnicity.
Mission statements are part of most dance departments' rationale and communication of values. Since dance departments are a part of larger institutions, it can be assumed that their missions are consistent with the focus of those organizations. As a primary outcome of organizational and of strategic planning, these statements are designed to differentiate one college or university from others. They are an articulation of the specific vision and long-term goals of a college or university, or more specifically in the case of this study, a dance department. Because one cannot assume a college or university's interest or commitment to cultural diversity, this study identified departments with a stated interest in cultural diversity from which to assess how such interest and commitment translates to curriculum; no direct conclusions about the home institution's implicit approach to cultural diversity was made.
Future dance educators, dance artists, community artists, and arts administrators, as well as dance historians and scholars, are educated in the dance departments of colleges and universities throughout the United States. Thus, these departments have a large impact on the way dance is experienced throughout our society. Through an analysis of primary data, I examined the ways in which selected dance departments fulfill, or do not fulfill, their stated missions of cultural diversity.
The methodology included a document analysis of the following primary source documents: mission statements, audition requirements, sequential department curriculum, required course readings, and demographics of faculty and students. Additionally, all teaching faculty and senior undergraduates from the selected dance departments were given a questionnaire to complete. The educational and performance background of faculty members, along with their areas of expertise, was the focus of the faculty questionnaire. In an effort to understand if student goals are aligned with the mission of the department, the student questionnaire included questions that asked seniors what type of positions they were interested in pursuing after graduation, and whether or not they felt they were prepared to enter the workforce given their course of study. The questions of how student goals are connected to working in culturally diverse communities of the 21st century, and if so, how the curriculum was designed to met the goals of students, were also explored. Finally, a field observation was included to provide context for each of these institutions.
This examination of three selected dance departments in terms of culturally diverse curricular offerings provides dance educators in higher education with examples of how selected dance departments carry out their stated missions. In this study dance departments that have developed strategies and mechanisms to implement their stated missions of cultural diversity throughout their curriculum are highlighted. Additionally, I encourage departments that have not been able to transmit their commitment to cultural diversity to department curriculum to do so, offering them tangible strategies which they can implement.