Undergraduate Director to Create Groundbreaking Diversity Course

Undergraduate Program Director Erika Walker has been selected to participate in a prestigious UC Berkeley program in order to create a unique Diversity in the Workforce course within the Haas School.

Walker, who occasionally teaches in the Undergraduate Program, is part of a second cohort of ten faculty members on campus who were hand-selected this semester to serve as Chancellor's Public Scholars in the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program at Berkeley.

"It's a very competitive process," says Victoria Robinson, director of the ACES Program, which supports the development of new or the enhancement of existing American Cultures courses. Since 1991, all Berkeley undergraduates have been required to take an American Cultures course before graduation. The ACES Program was made possible through a gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Foundation

Robinson says Walker's three-unit course, which she will teach in fall 2011, is particularly exciting because it will be the first offered by Haas to satisfy the American Cultures course requirement since 2002.

"We are very proud of Erika's efforts in helping the Haas School to make equity and inclusion an important element of its undergraduate curriculum," says Dean Rich Lyons. "She has shown tremendous dedication and creativity in making Berkeley-Haas a more inclusive, diverse place for students."

Walker's course will build on a two-unit special topic in business course with the same name that Walker introduced three years ago. At the time, no other top-tier undergraduate business program offered such a course that explicitly addressed human capital equity and inclusion, Walker noted in her ACES application.

"It is imperative that our future leaders are equipped with and are knowledgeable about the challenges and values of managing 'diversity,'" Walker wrote in her application.

"One of the most exciting aspects of ACES is being thoughtful about engaging both the student and community as contributors to research and learning," Walker adds. "This is a fantastic opportunity to provide experiential learning on such a complex and important issue in our society."

As a Chancellor's Public Scholar, Walker will be assisted in developing the new course by one or two students next semester and receives a $3,000 stipend and $1,500 course materials grant.

In addition to the course, Walker is leading a subcommittee that is helping to develop a strategic plan on equity, inclusion, and diversity at the Haas School. (See related story on the strategic plan.)

She also will be co-teaching a class called Facing You, Facing Me: Race, Class, and Gender among UC Berkeley Student Leaders in the spring through the Ethnic Studies Department. The course provides students from diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds the opportunity to learn from and with each other about issues of racial and class conflict, isolation, and understanding.

"I hope my role co-teaching the course will interest students in studying business who might not have considered it," says Walker, who took the course as a Berkeley undergraduate.

Outside of Haas, Walker is working on her doctorate in education at night at Mills College.

Learn more about Erika Walker