Pluralism Course Enriches

Story By: Frank Lopez, Rampage Reporter

Fresno City College provides many classes that teach a wide range of academic subjects. While colleges stress and require courses in math and science, they also require students to engage in humanity courses. There are many concepts and ideas that students are exposed to throughout their college career that can provide much more than academic credit.
The American Pluralism course is a sociological class that can be personally and socially enriching for those who embrace its teachings.
What is pluralism?
Pluralism is a condition in which many different cultures coexist in a society and still maintain their own cultural differences. It seeks to overcome racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination and contends that diversity is beneficial for a society. The course covers these topics while focusing on how they have affected American society throughout history and in the present.
FCC professor, Dr. Bernard Navarro, has been teaching American Pluralism since 2006.  Navarro became increasingly interested in American Pluralism when former FCC professor, Jerry Bill, asked him if he would like to teach a section.
“The class to me, when I started learning about it, was just really intriguing. I sat in on some of the classes and I just really enjoyed the idea behind the class,” says Navarro. “Sociologically speaking, those issues are really important to me and I really wanted to be a part of it.” He then asked FCC professor, Paul Gilmore, if he could discuss social class for the American Pluralism sections.
“Dr. Navarro asked me to talk about social class and alienation,” said Gilmore. “While they dealt with many different cultures, they hadn’t really dealt with the issue of class in America.”
One of the dynamics of the class is that there are more than just one instructor for the course. Different professors come in and lecture on their area of expertise. Notable instructors who teach the course are: Dr. Navarro, an expert in American Indian studies; Paul Gilmore who lectures on social class issues; FCC professor, Rebecca Slayton, an expert on the social and psychological aspects of stereotypes; and FCC professor, Matt Espinosa Watson, a specialist in Chicano history and culture.
Students are presented with a variety of world views and ideas that deal with many social issues prevalent in our society.
“I think American pluralism is an unusual class because it has so many instructors. It’s a class that gets at the incredible diversity of our society. It’s not necessarily a social problems class,” says Gilmore, “But it’s an examination of the fabric of our society, the many different threads that make up the fabric of our society.”
Dr. Navarro also has his students participate in group discussions and exercises in which students confront their own social standings and world views. The knowledge that American Pluralism provides can be an important tool to properly understand how American society functions and how social issues arise.
“A student interested in learning about cultural diversity, issues pertaining to racism, discrimination, prejudice, that’s the class you want to take,” said Navarro.
FCC student, Jennifer Vargas, took American Pluralism during her freshman year in 2009. Vargas says that she really enjoyed the class and that it influenced her to view the world differently and pursue her education.
“We have such a linear way of thinking. When you’re in that class you see that there are so many different cultures and backgrounds and ways of thinking,” says Vargas. “You realize that there are other options and other ways of thinking.”
American Pluralism promotes ideologies of equality and embracing the diverse cultures and customs of people from all over the world. It is an area of study that can help people overcome social prejudices and bigotry.
“It’s good to take a class like this every once in a while, even if it’s not the thing you’re really interested in,” says Gilmore. “It’s a snapshot on another world. It teaches you a different language in a way; a different way of viewing the world.”