A sociological definition of social change would refer to a “change” of behavior in a social institution: family, religion, and so forth. That may sound boring, but if you listen to which word a sociologist uses to describe that change, it will reveal that sociologist's theoretical orientation. For example, John, a "structural-functionalist," would describe social change in terms of increasing differentiation, suggesting that society beneficently becomes increasingly complex as it develops greater and greater inclusivity and efficiency. While Randy, a "conflict theorist," might depict social change in terms of domination and exploitation, with one or more groups being forced to change their behavior by groups that are economically and politically more powerful. Now, if these two sociologists were asked to write essays about California's Proposition 8, they would tell two entirely different stories. John would describe a cooperative system in which values and outcomes influence each other, and Randy would tell a story of disparate groups in conflict with one another. Separately, either essay would talk about Proposition 8 and some of the groups surrounding it. But taken together, a more complete image would take shape. We would see that neither viewpoint is complete. Then we would realize that these essays are not just describing Proposition 8, but they are describing the authors as well, each saying something about their core beliefs and essential world views. This phenomenon is not only true regarding scholars. When people speak, they often tell us as much about themselves as the thing that they are speaking about. It is in this experience that the value of diverse cultures coming together is most apparent.
Our ideal of cultural diversity is not merely a reapplication of the idea of providing equal access to social goods themselves, but it is an attempt to redefine the goods themselves. As people of diverse backgrounds are brought together, a transformation will take place in people's minds and hearts. An individual in a formerly exclusive group will discover the richness of a different culture. He will influence others in his group who will eventually be open to different foods, different customs, and most importantly, different ideas. The diversity lecture series and planned events will produce not only tolerance and respect, but understanding as well, enhancing the effectiveness and creativity of individuals and contributing to economic prosperity. Diversity will create broadmindedness, goodwill, and social betterment in every direction. People can learn from one another's distinctive cultural experiences and become better workers, better citizens, and ultimately better people. The African- American manager, the gay CEO, and the disabled political consultant will bring discussions and leave with a greater understanding of each other, creating guidelines for social balance. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. emphasized our interconnectedness and underlying unity. This is where the chief challenge lies and where GCC is heading towards with this road to understanding and positive social change.
As educators, we must first foster a desire to understand, then we must nurture the tolerance for difference that follows understanding, and finally develop within our community an ability to fully appreciate humanity in all its forms. The purpose of this cultural diversity lecture series and planned cultural events across Glendale Community College is to encourage the development of dialogue within the campus community through the organized interchange of ideas and research, as well as the sharing of cultural products, such as food and music, of various cultural groups with the aim of inclusivity and equity across all groups. This multicultural educational program will develop a level of awareness of cultural diversity as being the road to social change, enabling the GCC campus community to participate in this endeavor and to promote appreciation of all cultural traditions.