Intercultural certificate program now open

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Wilfrid Laurier University’s newly introduced intercultural certificate program is now open for students, in any program, to participate in.

The certificate program, developed by Laurier’s Diversity and Equity Office and the Centre for Teaching Innovation and Excellence, was introduced last fall and has already gone through two terms.

However, all students on both Brantford and Waterloo campuses are now able to participate.

Phyllis Power, Laurier’s manager of global engagement programming, explained how the certificate is centered on helping Laurier students develop intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes.

“We see those as foundational competencies, that are as basic as many of the other core competencies, that our students should be developing as universities students,” said Power.

The program aims to help students develop the intercultural skills they require in order to graduate and develop relationships with those of different cultural backgrounds.

“[The program will] open up a really richer life for them; it enables you to travel in a much deeper way and also for work, it enables you to work with a diversity of people and to develop more novel, innovative solutions, rather than just working or understanding people who are like yourself.”

The program features six, 80-minute modules, which are oriented to be initial introductions and explorations of each concept.

“Developing, like learning cross culturally, is really a lifetime goal or a lifetime process,” said Power.

The first module focuses on exploring what culture is exactly.The second is about exploring your own cultural influences and values.

“It’s really important to understand who you are before you can really bridge any other cultural difference,” Power said.

The third module, influenced by Laurier’s Diversity and Equity Office, is about looking at cultural differences. The other modules focus on intercultural communication, adaption and adjustment. The last module focuses on reviewing what students have learned by figuring out how to build their knowledge and skills into their university and beyond.

“We’re bridging from understanding culture, understanding your own, the real influences of culture around fairness and privilege, and then looking at, okay, now that you understand—how can you adapt and adjust when working or building a relationship with someone who has a different cultural influence than you?” said Power.

Before this program was introduced, Laurier previously had an intercultural effectiveness certificate program, which was introduced over five years ago. 

According to Power, the intercultural certificate program could be viewed as a second part to the previous certificate program.

“This summer, we’re looking at reviewing what went well, what we need to develop more and looking at having more focused opportunities of delivering the certificate in the new school year.”

With positive feedback from students and professors, as many asked to deliver the certificate to their own classes, those behind the certificate program are aiming to approach other student leadership groups on the Waterloo campus.

“We really focus on participatory deliveries, so a lot of it is active learning it’s not classroom-based, just listening to someone lecture, so they’ve enjoyed that part of the small group work,” said Power.

According to Power, 122 students have already completed the certificate program in two terms and about 165 have participated.

“We’re looking forward to measuring the impact of the certificate next year and developing more participant resources.”

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