The Case for a Cultural Competency Course

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This project was created to examine changes ostensibly needed at UNH regarding diversity and inclusion, given past and recent issues with racial tensions and diversity efforts. At the least, we need to have a discussion about attempting to meet the recurring demand for a cultural competency course. My research was guided by an interest to understand the extent to which cultural competency courses have brought positive results elsewhere in an effort to suggest their utility at UNH. My findings demonstrated that there are other schools attempting to employ similar courses, some of which have indeed been successful. For example, diversifying college curriculums have reaped benefits, notably, that diversity courses teach students skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century. Skills include active listening, empathy, fairness, dialogue, intercultural communication, conflict resolution, and collaborative problem-solving. Students reported that these courses offered them a platform to discuss and think critically about sensitive but important issues. My research bolstered previous research findings that a diversified curriculum can help bridge differences, both on campus and in society. Provided the technological affordances available, I think it is possible to strengthen arguments and better capture the attention of an audience when using multimedia to produce an academic project. Incorporating imagery and video, for example, enabled my ability to humanize students’ experiences better than I could have done, using quotes or attempting to explain their experience from my biased perspective as a white female. Compiling news stories alongside student posts allowed me to recreate my topic’s presence in the media. Compared to a traditional written research project, this involved much more work. In order to present a compelling argument in a video, it is all the more necessary to first do so on paper. Only after I was half-way through editing my video did I realize I should have written a drastically shorter essay if I wanted to include all my research and arguments. I eventually accepted the need to cut the majority of my findings out if I wanted to present a cohesive video essay, not a documentary film.

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