University of Arizona’s required DEI courses are ‘academically unserious,’ new report finds

The University of Arizona (UA) forces students to take “academically unserious,” diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-focused courses, a new report by the Goldwater Institute says.


The University of Arizona (UA) forces students to take “academically unserious,” diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-focused courses, a new report by the Goldwater Institute says.

The report states that UA is among more than two-thirds of American colleges and universities that require students to take at least one course with a DEI focus to complete their general education.

But Goldwater casts doubt on whether these courses offer any real educational value, and instead may be an attempt at political indoctrination.

“While general education programs were originally intended to help students gain knowledge and skills essential for thoughtful citizenship and successful careers, these new DEI requirements instead promote politically activist ideologies to a captive audience of students, who must complete the programs in order to receive a degree,” the report states. 

“Unfortunately, the Grand Canyon State’s ‘flagship’ institution, University of Arizona, has taken this politicized approach in a recent revision of its general education program, which now includes a mandate to take courses with a “Diversity & Equity” focus,” it continues. 

According to UA’s website, these courses should help students:  

  • “CENTER one or more marginalized populations in the course content, including, but not limited to: racial/ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQIA+ people, economically marginalized communities, and disabled people.”  
  • “EXPLORE the historical developments, causes, and consequences of structured inequality.”  
  • “EXAMINE how power, privilege, and positionality shape systems related to the discipline of the course and how knowledge is constructed.” 

One of the most egregious examples, the report finds, is a class on entomology, the study of insects. 

The course “Busy Bees and Fancy Fleas: How Insects Shaped Human History” reportedly teaches students “how arthropods [bugs] have shaped human history and cultural diversity, improved our health, wealth, and art, and continue to teach us new ways to understand human nature, sexuality, intelligence, and even how to approach ‘alien’ ideas.” 

According to the syllabus, the course aims to teach students to: 

  • “Connect examples of insect-human interactions with structured inequalities that have been experienced by marginalized human populations including but not limited to racial/ethnic minorities, gender and sexuality, socioeconomic status, and disability condition.” 
  • “Reflect in personal writing assignments on the assumptions that inform popular attitudes towards insects, identifying ways that attitudes of othering interfere with self-identity and foster systems of privilege or oppression/marginalization.” 
  • “Compose written texts that critically analyze and synthesize evidence from multiple disciplinary perspectives to make arguments about the impact of insects on human diversity and equity.” 

To that end, one assignment requires a student to “live like a bug” in order to better understand the hardships of “marginalized” groups.  

To complete the assignment, students must walk around campus after they’ve “disabled” one of their senses, while wearing “tissue paper wings.”  

The report also notes what is not required for general education at the university, for example, “American history, American government, or the principles of the Constitution,” even though excluding such courses is a direct violation of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) 2019 mandate that “all three public universities in Arizona … include the study of ‘American Institutions’ in their general education programs.” (The ABOR is the governing body presiding over the state’s three public universities.) 

The “’General Education Refresh’ shows that leaders at UA believe it is more important for students to receive lectures in progressive activism than to gain basic knowledge of American history and civics,” the report concludes. “Students could graduate having ‘lived like a bug,’ but without learning about the Constitution, the Civil War, or landmark Supreme Court cases.” 

To address this issue, Goldwater recommends ABOR “reassert control over the institution to correct these deficiencies,” or relinquish its supervisory role to the state Legislature to “ensure the proper stewardship of taxpayer resources and the academic integrity of the university.”