Marshawn Wolley


IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs 

Internationalized Course:

Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice

The purpose of this course is to prepare students for the diverse interactions they will engage in on a daily basis within their local communities. While the course has always contained a section focused on multiculturalism, internationalizing the course required an intentional effort. Now, throughout the semester, he integrates immigrant communities and intercultural engagement into topical areas of the course.

From the very beginning, the syllabus informs students that they will look at diversity from an international perspective and learn to recognize the role of cultural competency in the criminal justice system. Through in-class discussions, group activities and assignments, students discover the interconnectedness of international and local jurisprudence. Marshawn,  Director of Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, incorporates videos from communities overseas that are wrestling with the same issues as local U.S. communities and intentionally takes time to discuss current events and world news, always asking students to consider what cultural competency in the field of criminal justice means in these local and global situations.

If international students are present, they’re encouraged to share a comparative perspective of a situation or policy from their own country or culture. Guest speakers from the community who either identify as a cultural minority or who interact with diverse cultures are frequently invited to speak about their personal and professional experiences. When students are required to look up relevant course concepts or complete an assignment, they are encouraged to look beyond America to other countries and the international sphere for inspiration. Marshawn has found it encouraging to see the number of students who choose to take this route.

“Because of the critical cultural discussions we had in class, I gained a better understanding of myself and how I fit into a much larger community.” Student

Benefit to the Students

Internationalizing the course has allowed for more nuanced discussions, which requires students to take a closer look at themselves and others and how they relate. Discussions about global events raise students’ awareness about how the criminal justice field is responding both locally and abroad. Students learn that crime is different in different communities, and they walk away from the course with a deeper understanding of culturally salient aspects of individuals and an increased empathy for others.

Benefit to the Faculty Member

The real catalyst for change came directly from his students who expressed an overwhelming desire to learn more about international perspectives in the field and how to engage and interact with other cultures. It was clear to Marshawn that not thinking about curriculum internationalization would be a failure on his part. Being mindful about curriculum internationalization allowed Marshawn to “take a step back and consider his hidden agenda.” Intentional internationalization helped him take theory and make it practical for his students. By giving international students an opportunity and platform to share, their insightful contributions have broadened his understanding of America and American culture as well. Ultimately, it has informed his teaching philosophy as he has realized the importance of helping students wrestle and grapple with values, justice and empathy when helping other people.