New certificate aims to help students develop cultural competence and knowledge of how to build an inclusive society
Mount Allison University recently introduced a new certificate program — The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate. The new certificate is available to all students as part of their degree and explores the principles of equity in policies and practices in different organizations as well as assessing their effectiveness in achieving this goal of a better society.
“This certificate will develop valuable knowledge, methodologies, and applied skills in the important goal of building an inclusive society. This will be achieved by exploring the wide range of human qualities and attributes within a group, organization, or society,” says Dr. Erin Steuter, the University’s Sociology Department Head.
Although the certificate will cover the theory and historical and contemporary injustices facing marginalized groups, it has a practical approach to the subject and will give students the intercultural skills that many employers are looking for. Students will examine how to ensure everyone has the same opportunities and outcomes regardless of who they are and how to assist organizations identify and tackle barriers to safe environments for marginalized people.
The capstone course for the certificate, Cultural Competencies, has students working on a training program for a specific sector. In past courses these areas have included health, policing, and education.
“Individuals working in these areas give students a background on their sector, including the issues and the challenges they have, and why it is hard to address some of these issues. The students then break into teams and they prepare a training program for their chosen sector. Finally, they present their work to the class and to the people from the sector who in turn give feedback on the work,” says Steuter.
“It is the ideal way to learn about this subject in a supervised, safe space, and be able to ask the awkward questions.”
Cassandra Forand, a student who has taken the course and graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, says that although the course challenged them, she liked the experiential approach to learning.
“It offers students an opportunity to learn and practice how to be culturally competent. I enjoyed this class because of its practicality. It was immensely useful,” she says.
According to Steuter, a recent study that surveyed employers working in public, private, and non-profit organizations in nine countries, found employers value intercultural skills as highly as formal qualifications in the workplace.
“The research also shows that despite this high demand for intercultural fluency, most employers say that education providers in their countries do not sufficiently develop these skills in students before they enter the job market,” she says.
“Students will also have experience developing training programs and there is great need for people who have a complex understanding of the issue to create educational programs,” says Steuter.
Find out more about Mount Allison’s Certificate Programs. https://www.mta.ca/Community/Academics/Certificate_programs/Certificate_programs/