How to Improve Campus Diversity & Cultural Competency

Posted by Katie Brown on 8 November 2016 |

how to improve campus diversity and cultural competencyAll members of your campus community—including students, staff, faculty and administrators—contribute to your culture of diversity.

And campus diversity comes in many forms:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexual identity
  • And much more 

Today, one of the fastest growing forms of diversity is cultural diversity. So what is cultural diversity? And why does it matter on your campus? Let’s take a look.

What is Cultural Diversity?

There is no hard and fast definition for cultural diversity. But generally, it’s the existence of various ethnic and cultural groups within a community or society. For example, one way cultural diversity can be achieved at colleges and universities is through community members who are from minority populations or foreign countries.

Why is Cultural Diversity Important?

According to an article by Peterson’s, “Many public and private schools maintain that diversity is essential for the fulfillment of their mission as educational institutions, and that a multicultural campus and the provision of education to all sectors of American society is crucial to national development.”

For students, and your university as a whole, it’s extremely beneficial to learn and live among people with different ethnic, socioeconomic, linguistic and religious backgrounds.

In fact, there are a variety of benefits for cultural diversity including:

  • Increased personal development and challenges
  • Broadened perspectives
  • More knowledge of world views
  • Improved communication skills and social interaction
  • More prepared for diverse workplace cultures

The Peterson’s article also points out that “a diverse campus has the potential to create a richer educational experience. In addition to meeting people from all types of backgrounds, you’ll also be exposed to new perspectives … Diversity also applies to the different opinions and ideas present on campus, including political affiliations, academic passions and individual beliefs.”

As campuses continue to increase diversity, the need for cultural competency is imperative for an inclusive, non-discriminatory campus environment.

What is Cultural Competency?

According to the National Education Association, “Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families. It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each student unique, while celebrating the between-group variations that make our country a tapestry.”

How Can You Improve Cultural Competency?

For campus administrators and diversity officers, ensuring cultural competency is an important aspect of their roles. Whether the goal is to improve the inclusion of minority or culturally diverse students, or to educate students on the benefits of cultural diversity on campus, these tactics can be implemented:

  • Offer cultural organizations and clubs for students
  • Provide faculty members with resources and training for diverse classrooms
  • Engage culturally diverse students, faculty and staff to provide feedback on diversity and inclusion tactics
  • Focus on all aspects of campus diversity, including curriculum, activities and campus life
  • Educate the entire community on the benefits of a multicultural campus

Conclusion

Through an understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and an action plan for implementing cultural competency improvement tactics, higher-education institutions will experience the benefits of a culturally diverse campus and student body.

For more information on campus diversity and tips to improve cultural competency, please view Campus Answers’ Diversity and Inclusion Training here.

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