Jacquelyn Wiersma-Mosley, University of Arkansas – Creating a Culturally Competent Campus

How do we create a culturally competent campus?

Jacquelyn Wiersma-Mosley, professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Arkansas, details the steps.

Dr. Jacquelyn Wiersma-Mosley is a Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences in the School of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Her research and teaching focus on assessing and training students, faculty, staff and campus leaders in cultural competence (via the Intercultural Development Inventory).

Creating a Culturally Competent Campus

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One effective tool that could support, sustain and strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on college campuses is the Intercultural Development Inventory, or the IDI. The IDI framework can foster cultural competence among students, faculty and staff to recognize their own cultural identity and to interact effectively and appropriately with people from other cultures. The IDI’s 5 stages include Denial, Polarization, Minimization, Acceptance and Adaptation. Starting first is Denial, which reflects limited experience and capability understanding and responding appropriately to cultural differences. The best strategy to grow is to increase awareness and visibility of cultural differences.

Next is Polarization which is an “us vs. them” mindset. Here, there is an overemphasis and judgement of racial differences, which stems from the fear of loss of power, privilege, and control. The best strategy is to find commonalities among groups.

The majority of students, faculty, and staff are likely within Minimization, which is highlighting commonalities too much that can mask a deeper understanding of cultural differences, often referred to as color-blindness. The best strategy for these individuals is to focus more on equity, rather than equality.

Next, individuals in Acceptance recognize and appreciate patterns of cultural differences, but lack the ability to adapt to cultural differences. The best strategy for increasing cultural competence is to continue engaging in cultural experiences.

Lastly, Adaptation is when one is able to successfully bridge cultural differences. Here, individuals have developed deep awareness of their own privileges, can relate to others, have a critical understanding of social issues, and have hands-on experience working for social change.

In closing, the IDI framework supports learning that is both appropriate and challenging based on targeted interventions, goals, and support. This customized approach could help college campuses increase cultural competency to work towards goals related to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion.

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