Components of Cultural Competency

  1. Awareness: It is important to examine diversity-related values and beliefs in order to recognize any deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes that can create barriers for learning and personal development. Many of us have blind spots when it comes to our beliefs and values; diversity education can be useful for uncovering them.
  2. Attitude: Values and beliefs impact cross-cultural effectiveness because they convey the extent to which we are open to differing views and opinions. The stronger we feel about our beliefs and values, the more likely we will react emotionally when they collide with cultural differences. For example, people of color and white Americans tend to have different values and beliefs about diversity and equality; the differences are, in part, the result of uniquely different exposure to oppression and discrimination.
  3. Knowledge: The more knowledge we have about people of different cultures, the more likely we are able to avoid stepping on cross-cultural toes. Knowing how culture impacts problem solving, managing people, asking for help, etc. can keep us connected in cross-cultural interactions.
  4. Skills: One can have the “right” attitude, considerable self-awareness, and a lot of knowledge about cultural differences, yet still lack the ability to effectively manage differences. If we have not learned skills or have had little opportunity to practice, our knowledge and awareness are insufficient to avoid and manage cross-cultural landmines.

Adapted from Pedersen's Conceptual Framework for Developing Cultural and Cross-Cultural Competence (1994).

Group of photography students in the forum

Resources for Cultural Competency and Understanding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Campus Pride - Education and resources geared specifically for LGBTQ+ college students.

How to Tell Someone They’re Racist - Jay Smooth shares a useful technique to combat racist actions.

If the World Were 100 People - Consider your life compared to others in this world.

Improving Your Diversity IQ - Doug Melville, who is biracial, helps explain the importance of embracing diversity and gives 9 steps to improve your own diversity IQ.

It’s Pronounced Metrosexual - Articles, graphics, and activities about LGBTQ+ awareness and education.

Project Implicit - These quick online tests may help you to see whether you have implicit bias towards certain groups of people and how strong this bias is. Try it – you may be surprised!

Ted Talks Bridging Cultural Differences - This is one of many collections of Ted Talks related to diversity. There are hundreds of presentations related to cultural competency and diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you want something specific, I bet they have it!

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - Peggy McIntosh, in her seminal work on privilege stated, "I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious." Most white Americans fail to realize the extent to which privilege impacts their lives. This article and the SEED project help us understand white privilege and more importantly, what to do with this privilege.

Students posing with Olympic gold medalist

Additional Resources for Faculty & Staff

25 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias and Identity With Students - 25 short New York Times documentaries that range in time from 1 to 7 minutes and tackle issues of race, bias and identity.

The Avarna Group - An immense collection of social and environmental justice themed articles, activities, and videos. Be sure to use the "search by subject" option for quicker results.

Diversity Activities Resource Guide - Close to 40 classic and new diversity activities to engage your students with.

Creating an Inclusion and Diversity BREAKTHROUGH - This powerpoint contains many action-oriented ideas on how to make your classroom more inclusive.

Cultural Competency for Higher Education Professionals - The linked chart summarizes cultural competencies across knowledge, awareness, and skill domains. Good to print out and look over, from time-to-time.

Edutopia - Culturally Responsive Teaching has a plethora of articles and new lesson plans to use. Within each link you will find references to more articles and ideas - so if you don't find exactly what you are looking for, it would be worth scrolling through related articles.

Handbook for Facilitating Difficult Conversations in the Classroom - College classrooms are very much a place for engaging, challenging conversations! If you already handle "hot" topics or you're planning on infusing more diversity-related activities and conversations into your teaching, here is an excellent primer on how to do so effectively and sensitively. Please review these recommendations and utilize the many links included in this document. 

Inclusion Starts with I - Meaningful, short video highlighting WHY inclusion in the workplace matters.

Yale Center for Teaching and Learning - Included you will find many practical tips for promoting an inclusive classroom. Be sure to look at the multitude of downloads at the bottom of the page for additional resources.