Human Diversity and Pluralism

Carefully read and think about the following definitions.

Ethnocentrism: the view of things in which ones own group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated in reference to it.

Prejudice: refers to negative attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs toward an entire category of people. Prejudice is an attitude or belief and is not always evident in a person's behavior. It may be directed toward a group as a whole, or toward an individual because he or she is a member of that group.

Racism : believing racial/ethnic groups other than your own are intellectually, psychologically, or physically inferior.

Stereotype: an overgeneralization about a group of people. They are invalid generalizations based on limited experience.

Discrimination: to make a distinction in favor or against a person on the basis of prejudice.

Oppression: a state of being in which the oppressed person is deprived of some human right or dignity and is (or feels) powerless to do something about it.

Pluralism: a state in which individual ethnic, racial groups maintain their cultural uniqueness while sharing common elements of American culture.

Please take some time to think about the following questions:

  1. Was there ever a time when you were discriminated against or a victim of prejudice?

  2. Can you think of stereotypes and prejudices that you currently hold? What are these based on (in other words, how did these formulate?)


Session #10
Human Diversity and Pluralism


  1. Read the story below quietly without discussing it with your peers.
  2. When your group is ready, reveal your choice and give your rationale.
  3. When all the members of your team have revealed their choices, you will have five minutes to reach a unanimous decision. You are to persuade others to agree with your decision.

One day your peers call on you to solve a problem. They explain to you that the
following ten people are going to die in five minutes from a rare disease, but they have enough of a cure for just one person. They want you to decide who will receive the cure.

a five year old girl who is mentally retarded
a 42 year old clergy person
a 19 year old college student
a 65 year old scientist working on a cure for AIDS
a rich 59 year old woman who often gives millions to the poor
a 29 year old widow with two children
a pregnant 16 year old prostitute
a 33 year old man with an invalid wife and three children
a 22 year old genius who is addicted to drugs
a 45 year old college counselor who is adored by students

In the space below, provide reasons for your choice.

  1. Did the group save your choice of someone else's?
  2. Would you be more inclined to save the 16-year-old pregnant girl if she were not a prostitute?
  3. Would you be more inclined to save the five year old girl if she were not retarded?
  4. What does it say about your sense of values if you answered yes to either question #2 or #3?
  5. Have your values changed in the last five years?
  6. Do you think your values will continue to change?

Session 10
Human Diversity and Pluralism

I. Please take a few minutes to think about who you are and how you identify yourself. Think of the groups to which you belong according to factors such as the following:

  1. gender (male/female)
  2. age group (e.g. late twenties)
  3. national origin and native language (e.g. French)
  4. religion (e.g. Catholic)
  5. physical or mental challenge (e.g. learning disabled)

II Please take a few minutes to think about and answer the following questions.

  1. How often are you conscious of the differences of others?
  2. Why do you believe you are conscious of these differences?
  3. Do you ever think of yourself as being different?
  4. Do you consider yourself to be tolerant? Why?
  5. Are you more tolerant than your parents? Why do you think this?