by Philip Hartman
As a transfer student to PSU from Portland Community College, I knew there might be some overlap of courses to meet degree requirements but I wasn’t expecting they’d be outside my major. As it turns out I had to take a few upper division cluster courses in Portland State’s University Studies Program. This program is required for all PSU undergrads and moves students to study topics outside their major as a means to expand their perspectives in their chosen field of study.
As a sociology major I decided to pick the Global Perspectives cluster which gave me insights into an array of cultures and, economic systems. Of all the cluster class classes I took, the one that stood out was Caribbean Spirituality offered by the Black Studies Program. In this class I learned about the history of the Caribbean and the the rich influences that language and food have on their culture. After taking all of the classes in the Global Perspectives cluster I was hooked on Black studies classes, especially those exploring the Caribbean. I also began to meet more people here in Portland from the Caribbean and hear their powerful stories.
To be honest when I first heard that i’d have to take Upper Division Cluster classes I wasn’t happy about it. But now I realize just how important gaining these other perspectives is to my learning. Taking the courses offered in my upper division cluster and learning about additional perspectives from another culture helped enrich and broaden my studies in Sociology, giving me valuable insights into a world outside of my own.