This paper examines the literature on diversity courses in institutions of higher education to assess how scholars have conceptualized and studied diversity courses, with particular attention to the normative and unmarked nature of whiteness in these works. A review of fifty-seven journal articles and book chapters, published between 2000 and 2022, reveals that more researchers conceptualize diversity courses as multicultural education than as social justice education, with nonrequired diversity courses much more likely than required diversity courses to frame diversity with an anti-racist lens. One of the key findings of this study is the near absence of studies on the content of diversity courses, which makes it difficult to discern whether and how existing courses conceptualize diversity education. The review also reveals that research on diversity education is based largely on the experiences of white students, with researchers seldom prioritizing or even including the experiences of Students of Color in their studies. The findings are clear that most researchers conceptualize diversity courses as an unstated public good for white students rather than an educational right that Students of Color have consistently demanded. This literature review calls attention to the importance of connecting demographic diversity and epistemological diversity—to value, promote, and reward not only representational diversity but also diversity of knowledge.

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