Re: Staff training on cross cultural issues
- Thanks, Dianne.
To your comment re. new-age independent invention of old, old anthropological concepts:
This reads more like a watered-down, generalized departmental policy notice than a re-invention of the anthropology wheel. Examples of such re-invention have included faculties of multicultural studies, comprised of sociologists, education faculty, ethnic studies and others who either wittingly or unwittingly make reference to old anthropological concepts while implying that the concepts are new. Statements to the effect that academic studies have never been made of matters anthropological, suggest sloppy scholarship. The NISOD blurb makes no reference to any specific field, and doesn't seem to imply any righting-of-wrongs on some NISOD white horse.
Such things used to be cross-listed pretty accurately, and people used to share anthro/sociol/psych/social work/educational/etc. concepts, albeit a bit grudgingly. I found a political science reference once that cited an outmoded pronouncement by Durkheim (I've forgotten which one) as an example of anthropology, and then proceeded to discuss the inadequacy of anthropology on that basis.
The disconnect today seems to have something to do with disagreements over how and whether to advocate politically, and the need for folks to be "activists." (Some have even pointed out that the decision to remain "apolitical" is itself a political decision....)
We all recognize this as a bit of a mess for one reason or another, and tied up in whether academics can engage in public relations.
Thanks again. I think the NISOD piece does illustrate some kind of watering-down, if not quite a dumbing-down. Reduction of anthropology to some bureaucratic cook-book fact sheet can seem frustrating without a lot of explanation behind it. That explanation seems to have been beyond the writers' scope of work or even job description, but who knows? It could be useful as a first-lecture guide, with the instructor and class engaging in basic critique.
Re: Staff training on cross cultural issues
Posted by: "dianne.chidester@..." dianne.chidester@...
Date: Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:21 am ((PST))
The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD)
* Community College Leadership Program
Department of Educational Administration * College of Education, The
University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, D5600, Austin, TX
Preparing Students for a
According to an ancient Chinese tale, once there
was a frog that lived at the bottom of a shallow well.
The extent of the frog's world was defined by what he
could see by looking up at the sky. This frog's world
was a small circle or slice of life; he had no awareness or
knowledge of what lay beyond the scope of his vision.
How many of our students are "frogs in the well?" And
what are we doing as educators to push them up and
out of their wells? Finally, are we providing them with
the toolbox of skills they absolutely need to excel in a
multicultural, global environment?
Recently, I heard a statistic that spoke to the
demographics that continue to shape our local and
global identities, relationships, and perspectives. In
the U.S., 2010 could be a demographic "tipping point."
This year, the number of babies born to racial and
ethnic minorities is likely to outnumber babies born to
Whites. What is emerging is a cultural generation gap,
in which the young are becoming much more racially
and ethnically diverse than the old. This points to a
cultural landscape that seems foreign to many, yet is
becoming the norm in our classrooms and communities.
For example, data from the Census Bureau show
that some of the most common names in the U.S. are
Garcia, Rodriquez, and Martinez, along with Smith,
Johnson, and Wilson. Buying power for racial and ethnic
minorities is increasing much faster than that of whites.
And these trends cannot be analyzed apart from our
growing global interdependence.
Earlier this year, a survey by the American Association
of Colleges and Universities asked employers to identify
"essential learning outcomes" that are not getting the
attention they deserve in higher education. At the top of
their list were knowledge and skills related to cultural
diversity and global issues. Moreover, employers
emphasized that they need employees who can work
together and problem-solve on diverse teams.
The glaring gap between the cultural intelligence of
our students and the global, rapidly changing cultural
landscape they encounter in the workplace is a growing
concern. Increasingly, employers, including businesses,
government agencies, healthcare institutions, and the
military, are placing more and more emphasis on the
potential challenges and benefits of diversity. Why is
diversity such a priority when organizations evaluate
their marketing strategies, suppliers, training programs,
hires, and core values? Simply put, it is because they
understand the connection between diversity and their
bottom line. Moreover, they realize that diversity, in
and of itself, will not allow them to be more creative,
productive, customer-oriented, and marketable
automatically. Rather, cultural differences represent
potential that can only be developed and leveraged if
their employees have the requisite cultural intelligence.
In Building Cultural Intelligence (CQ): Nine Megaskills,
the author expounds on a skill-set that employers regard
as a necessity, regardless of one's major or chosen career.
In addition to technical competence, the following
megaskills are no longer an "extra" or nice thing to
have; rather, they have become a necessity.
1. Understanding My Cultural Identity-
understanding how we think about ourselves as
well as the people and ways of life with which
2. Checking Cultural Lenses-recognizing the ways in
which cultural backgrounds differ and how they
influence thinking, behavior, and assumptions
3. Global Consciousness-moving comfortably across
boundaries and seeing the world from multiple
perspectives and world views
4. Shifting Perspectives-putting ourselves in the
circumstances, cultures, and histories of others
5. Managing Cross-Cultural Conflict-dealing with
conflict among people from differing cultural
backgrounds in a productive and constructive
6. Dealing with Bias-recognizing bias in all its
forms and responding to it effectively
7. Understanding the Dynamics of Power-grasping
how power and culture interrelate and the effect
of power on how we see the world and relate to others
8. Intercultural Communication-respectfully and
effectively exchanging ideas and feelings across
9. Multicultural Teaming-working with others from
diverse backgrounds to accomplish common goals
for which team members hold themselves accountable
How do we make it possible for students to develop
this skill set? First, we need to target all students in all
fields of study throughout their college experience.
We can accomplish this in a variety of ways. Infusing
relevant CQ megaskills across the curriculum is an
excellent place to start. As an example, students in
hospitality management must learn to collaborate and
communicate cross-culturally in highly diverse settings.
Servicing people with disabilities, managing people who
are English language learners, and accommodating the
needs of customers with diverse religious backgrounds
are critical skills that need to be seamlessly integrated
into this curriculum.
At many colleges, learning communities organize
around themes such as linguistic diversity, cross-cultural
leadership, and global consciousness. By offering a wide
range of learning communities, online and face-to-face,
in residential settings, classrooms and beyond, colleges
provide the "authentic space" students need to dialogue
openly and honestly with each other and, in the process,
learn more about their differences and commonalities.
Such dialogues can teach students invaluable lessons
about their upbringing and the cultural lens through
which they view the world. More specifically, learning
communities can heighten students' awareness of
bias and other socially constructed barriers that make
leadership, interpersonal interaction, and global
consciousness more difficult. Furthermore, diverse
learning communities can make it possible for students
to experience what it is like being a minority or a cultural
outsider for a prolonged period of time. In so doing,
they emerge from their "wells," question cultural truths,
and become more comfortable outside of their cultural
By offering service learning, along with cultural
immersion programs and study abroad, we provide
students with invaluable opportunities to apply CQ
megaskills in real-world settings. For instance, nursing
students at one mid-western college learn to shift
perspectives and think globally as they complete servicelearning
projects with international communities.
Moreover, pre- and post-test assessments measure their
Increasingly, requirements are in place at many
institutions, ensuring exposure of all students to
U.S. and/or global diversity, including scholarship
on minorities, women, and world cultures. Equally
important are faculty development programs that focus
on integrative studies, new curricular models, and the
cultural inclusiveness of what is taught and how it is
The success of initiatives to promote cultural
intelligence hinges largely on the diversity and
inclusiveness of the college community. The recruitment
and retention of a culturally diverse population of
faculty, staff, and students must be institutionalized
and ongoing, along with the nurturing of partnerships
with local and global communities. Strong institutional
commitment and leadership are pivotal, moving far
beyond food, festivals, flags, and public relations.
Initiatives must be integrated and college-wide,
and include learning outcomes and assessment,
developmental education and first-year programs,
faculty and staff development, student activities, and
Richard D. Bucher, Professor, Sociology
For further information contact the author at Baltimore
City Community College, 2901 Liberty Heights Ave.,
Baltimore, MD 21215. Email: rbucher@...
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