U.S. Diversity/International Perspectives

Guidelines and Procedures

(Approved by the FSCC 10/2/96; revised 5/2/97, 11/25/97, 4/28/98, 3/30/00, 4/10/09)


One of Iowa State University’s goals is to prepare its students to meet the challenges of responsible citizenship and effective professional roles in a culturally diverse global community. To help achieve this goal, all undergraduate students must fulfill graduation requirements in two areas: U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives. The specific standards used to certify students’ fulfillment of these requirements vary from major to major, but all require three credits of course work (or the equivalent in some alternative academic experience) for each of the requirements. In most cases, courses used to meet the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives requirements can also be used to fulfill general education requirements of the student’s college or requirements of the student’s major. Students should consult with advisers for details of the requirements in particular majors.
The focus of the U.S. Diversity requirement is the multicultural society of the United States. Courses or alternative academic work used to meet the requirement address significant manifestations of human diversity and provide students with insights that enhance their understanding of diversity among people in the U.S.
Through completion of the U.S. Diversity requirement, students will achieve at least two learning outcomes such as those listed below.
Students will be able to:

  • articulate how their personal life experiences and choices fit within the context of the larger mosaic of U.S. society, indicating how they have confronted and critically analyzed their perceptions and assumptions about diversity-related issues.
  • analyze and evaluate the contributions of various underrepresented social groups in shaping the history and culture of the U.S.
  • analyze individual and institutional forms of discrimination based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc.
  • analyze the perspectives of groups and individuals affected by discrimination
  • analyze how cultural diversity and cooperation among social groups affect U.S. society.

The focus of the International Perspectives requirement is the global community. Its objective is to promote students’ understanding of cultural diversity and interdependence on a global scale. A period of immersion in a foreign culture is often a particularly effective way of meeting these objectives, so Iowa State University encourages the use of study-abroad experiences as a means of fulfilling the International Perspectives requirement. International students, because they are “studying abroad” from their home country’s perspective, are normally deemed to have met the International Perspectives requirement.
Through completion of the International Perspectives requirement, students will achieve at least two learning outcomes such as those listed below.
Students will be able to:

  • analyze the accuracy and relevancy of their own worldviews and anticipate how people from other nations may perceive that worldview.
  • describe and analyze how cultures and societies around the world are formed, are sustained, and evolve.
  • analyze and evaluate the influence of global issues in their own lives.
  • describe the values and perspectives of cultures other than their own and discuss how they influence individuals’ perceptions of global issues and/or events.
  • communicate competently in a second language.

Military Veterans: The International Perspective requirement shall be waived for U.S. military veterans who have completed at least 3 months of service stationed outside of the United States. (Approved by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee, Academic Standards and Admissions Committee, Academic Affairs Council and Executive Board of the Faculty Senate.) More information

Implementation Policies
(Revised by FSCC 4/09)
1. Use of transfer and testout credit in meeting the requirements.
For courses that transfer in as specific ISU courses, the transfer credit will fulfill the requirement if the counterpart ISU course fulfills the requirement. (Whether it does will, of course, depend on the student's current major.) Likewise, testout credit in a course that meets the requirement will also suffice. For courses that carry transfer credit but do not have a specific ISU equivalent, two parties will have to agree to the use of the credit in fulfilling the requirement: the department or program responsible for the student's major and the department or program responsible for the designator under which the course appears on the ISU record. For example, if a course in a world language not offered at ISU transfers as WLC 100, World Languages and Cultures will have to approve the use of the course in meeting the International Perspectives requirement.. The Office of the Registrar will maintain a list of courses without equivalent ISU courses that have been approved for U.S. Diversity/International Perspectives. The “Transfer Course U.S. Diversity/International Perspectives Evaluation Form” is used to route the request through the appropriate offices.

2. Requests for substitutions and waivers.
All requests for substitutions of non-approved courses, non-credit experiences or waivers of the requirement are initiated by the student via a U.S. Diversity/International Perspectives Substitution or Waiver Request in AccessPlus. Requests for substitution or waivers require the approval of the student’s academic adviser, the student’s college dean (or representative), and the Provost (or representative).  Substitutions or waivers are done on an individual student basis.
Substitutions: A request to substitute another course and/or experience to meet one of the requirements must include justification/documentation on how the intended learning outcomes for U.S. Diversity or International Perspectives were achieved through the substitute course/experience. Students can request a substitution for a non-approved course, a segment of a non-approved course, or an appropriate noncredit experience.
Waiver. Requests for waivers will ordinarily be based on aspects of the student's personal experience that the student believes have enabled him or her to meet the intent of the requirement. In the case of the U.S. diversity requirement, membership in a minority group will not, in itself, serve as sufficient grounds for a waiver. International students - defined as those students whose citizenship status is coded N (for nonimmigrant) or R (for refugee or asylee) on their official university record - are exempted from the international perspectives requirement because these students, by living and studying in a country other than their home country for an extended period, are meeting the objectives of that requirement in what is perhaps the ideal way. If a student supports a waiver request with evidence of personal experience or activities with multicultural or international aspects, these experiences or activities must be of an academic nature although not necessarily credit-bearing. Course credits are not awarded for approved waivers; only the requirement is waived.
3. Study abroad experiences and the international perspectives requirement.
An ISU course, including work experiences under the auspices of Iowa State University cooperative education or internships, involving a stay in a foreign country of three weeks or greater duration will meet the international perspectives requirement regardless of the content of the course. An approved ISU study abroad course involving international travel for less than 3 weeks will also meet the international perspectives requirement regardless of the content of the course if it carries 3 or more academic credits. The procedure for substitution requests, described in item #2 of these implementation policies, is not required in these cases.
4. High school world language study and the international perspectives requirement.
High school world language study will not, by itself, fulfill the international perspectives requirement. A student who has done a significant amount of high school-level world language study may, however, fulfill the international perspectives requirement by earning testout credit in the 102 course (or higher) in a world language.
5. Modifying the lists of courses approved for use in meeting the U.S. diversity or the international perspectives requirement.
The approved course lists are found at the following web addresses: U.S. Diversity: http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/students/div-ip-guide/usdiversity-courses and International Perspectives: http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/students/div-ip-guide/IntlPerspectives-current.

The final decision regarding inclusion of a proposed ISU course on either the U.S. Diversity or International Perspectives master list will be made by the college curriculum committee of the department proposing the course and will be based on the extent to which the course addresses the learning outcomes specified by the Faculty Senate. Changes, deletions, or additions to the lists should originate with the departmental curriculum committees and then be approved by the appropriate college curriculum committee. Courses offered as dual-, co-, or cross-listed courses must be reviewed and approved by all colleges in which these listings occur. (The forms referred to in the following are found on the Registrar's Forms page.) Information on approved courses are forwarded to the Registrar’s Office for inclusion on master lists of approved courses.
Courses in the Catalog: The submission of requests for existing courses to be added to either list should be submitted on the "U.S. Diversity Course Proposal" or the International Perspectives Course Proposal form found on the Office of the Registrar forms web site under "For Departments." Once approved, the Office of the Registrar will add the designation to the course in the catalog and the on-line schedule of classes.
Experimental Courses: The current (02/08 or more recent) Experimental Course Announcement form and a syllabus for the course should be submitted to the college curriculum committee. The college curriculum committee will judge the course for both the experimental offering and for appropriateness for the U.S. diversity and international perspective requirements.
After a course has been approved by the college curriculum committee, it is added to the appropriate list on the web. Additional notification is sent to advisers and Office of the Registrar staff in graduation evaluation and degree audit. The list of approved courses is maintained on the Web by the Office of the Registrar.
6. The offering department's role in determining the availability of courses for use in meeting the requirements.
A department offering a course may not discriminate among the students in the course by allowing some to use it in fulfillment of one of the requirements while prohibiting its use by others. For example, the offering department may not designate a course as available for use in meeting one of the requirements for its majors only.
7. Courses appearing on both lists.
A course cannot be approved for, nor can it appear on both the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives lists.
8. Double-major and double-degree programs.
Students pursuing double major or double degree programs will be required to fulfill the U.S. diversity and international perspectives requirements of either one of the majors, but not both.
9. Pass not-pass credits.
Students cannot use pass not-pass credits to meet these requirements. Credits obtained with a P mark cannot be used to meet the U.S. diversity and international perspectives requirements.
10. Meeting the requirements.
Once a student has met the U.S. diversity and/or the international perspectives requirements of their currently declared major, the requirement is satisfied for their degree requirement. If they subsequently change majors, where the requirements may be different, the requirement has been fulfilled and additional courses in this area are not needed.
11. Use of U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives credit in a minor.
Credit used for these requirements cannot be used as part of the 9 credits of a minor which cannot be applied to other requirements. Exceptions to this rule will apply to minors in: African American Studies, American Indian Studies, French, German, International Agriculture, International Studies, Russian Studies, Spanish, and Women’s Studies.