Creating Multicultural Change on Campus
reviewed by Erica Colmenares & Laura Vernikoff - May 06, 2015
Title: Creating Multicultural Change on Campus
Author(s): Raechele L. Pope, Amy L. Reynolds, John A. Mueller, Caryn, & McTighe Musil
Publisher: Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco
ISBN: 1118242335, Pages: 224, Year: 2014
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The aim of Raechele Pope, Amy Reynolds, and John Muellers book, Creating Multicultural Change on Campus, is to assist higher education professionals in fostering multicultural change at their university or college. The book builds on the authors previous work on the necessity of multicultural competence, and acts as a toolkit of strategies and practices that can help create a welcoming and diverse environment at the institutional level.
The authors use multicultural development organization (MCOD) theory and a multicultural change intervention matrix (MCIM) to scaffold these processes. The book is intended for those responsible for enacting multicultural change at a college or university including, but not limited to, student affairs practitioners, graduate students, higher education administrators, and even faculty. Creating Multicultural Change on Campus is organized into three primary sections. The first section illustrates the theoretical and conceptual cornerstone of the book, and offers MCOD as a heuristic tool for understanding multicultural change efforts at higher education institutions. The second introduces the MCIM, a framework intended to help practitioners enact change and integrate MCOD theory at three distinct levels: the individual level, group level, and institutional level.
The third section is the more practical, or applied part of the book. It stresses the importance of assessment and evaluation as part of any multicultural change effort and offers some tools to help with this process. This section also includes a chapter written by Timothy R. Ecklund and Matthew J. Weigand, which provides examples of three very different higher education institutions that use the MCIM to enact multicultural change. The book concludes with a summary of the key points and emphasizes the challenges that individuals, groups, and institutions need to consider when enacting multicultural change at the campus level.
Out of the three sections, the second section of the book, or the explication of the MCIM, is the texts core and its strongest element. The MCIM, encapsulated in a table, outlines the first and second order change principles that are necessary for creating multicultural change at the individual, group, and institutional levels. According to the matrix, first order change at the individual level is characterized by the development of multicultural awareness and second order change is characterized by a paradigm shift in how an individual perceives diversity. At the group level, first order change is characterized by changes in group membership and second order change consists of the restructuring of groups.
At the institutional level, first order change is programmatic (e.g., the addition of new multicultural programs) while second order change is systemic and involves structural changes across institution, division, or department levels. Each chapter in this section of the book describes what multicultural change looks like, outlining the challenges and benefits of first and second order change. The chapter provides exemplars or key takeaways to consider when engaging in this work. A particular strength of this section is that it offers examples of ways to enact each type of change, rather than prescribe one particular approach.
Despite the importance and relevancy of this work for college and university campuses nationwide, two limitations hinder the books potential. The first is the authors circumvention of the controversy around multiculturalism as a term and a concept. While Pope, Reynolds, and Mueller remark on the absence of a broadly accepted definition of multiculturalism and stress that it is a process rather than a destination, their failure to address the historical, social, and political contexts around multiculturalism, a core premise of their work, is a surprising misstep. This is particularly puzzling given that, in this day and age, multiculturalism is a contested term in a highly disputed, almost volatile, field. It would be helpful if the authors explicitly located themselves in the larger arena of work on this topic.
The second limitation of this book is the overabundant use of different theoretical and conceptual frameworks. Additional theories and models used across the chaptersincluding the transtheoretical model of change, social change model of leadership development, institutional change, and intergroup contact theoryadds a great deal of complexity. The authors fail to explain how, specifically, each theory contributes to the readers understanding of multicultural change. While the combination of different theoretical constructs can be extremely useful for understanding multicultural first and second order change at particular levels, the rationale behind these choices is not always made clear. The strengths that particular theoretical constellations offer are muted. It appears that, in an effort to ground their work in theorya key goal of the bookMCIM gets lost in the authors theoretical assemblage.
Despite these limitations, the books contribution to the field of higher education cannot be overlooked. The book, and in particular the MCIM matrix, can act as a useful resource for those practitioners (or institutions) looking to enact multicultural change at a campus level. As the authors gently remind us, it is impossible for one book (or one model) to transform higher education. Hence, this book is not the panacea that some practitioners might have been looking for, but it provides a place to start, some key things to consider, and a diagnostic and evaluative matrix to determine next steps along the way.