MU publishes diversity enhancement statements

Friday, April 26, 2013 | 2:04 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — This week, the MU Faculty Council's Diversity Enhancement Committee published statements from MU colleges and schools concerning how they enhance diversity.

These statements will allow the public and other MU schools and colleges see what they are doing, committee chairman Clyde Bentley said.

"It gives (MU) something that says, 'This is how committed we are to cultural awareness, cultural diversity,'" Bentley said.

Each college and school received letters in January from the committee requesting these statements by April 15. Here are summaries of their responses:

College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

Academic programs either require or encourage students to take diversity-related courses and/or study abroad.

The college also creates a diverse, inclusive environment with faculty, staff and students; provides students with internship opportunities in diverse environments; and promotes socialization through student organizations.

College of Arts and Science

In their coursework, students should be communicating clearly, forming and testing hypotheses, solving problems, thinking critically and analytically, examining their lives critically and objectively, and enriching their lives by appreciating cultural achievements.

These courses are expected to include people of different cultures, respect differences and similarities and be open to the diversity of human achievement.

Trulaske College of Business

The college views excellence, diversity and inclusion as interdependent. It has established goals to increase diversity among faculty, staff, students and external partners.

This year, the college has addressed diversity, inclusion and cultural competence through a new three-credit course, study-abroad programs and a global mindset and multicultural learning map developed by its Professional Development Program staff.

Other efforts include scholarship programs, committees and student organizations.

College of Education

Research and internal units, such as the Coalition for Cultural Competency and the Office of International and Intercultural Initiatives, prepare student leaders for 21st century global demands.

Students experience both theoretical and experiential aspects of diversity through required courses and field experience. The Personal Transformational Pathways Initiative allows both undergraduate and graduate students to interact with students and educators worldwide.

College of Engineering

The college's Diversity in Engineering Program works to increase and maintain the number of students from underrepresented minority groups in engineering. The program works with students through educational outreach programs, admission assistance and academic advising.

The college also provides students with the opportunity to participate in international engagement activities such as study abroad programs.

Graduate School

The school offers a number of voluntary ways that emphasize cultural competency, including the Preparing Future Faculty Program; courses through its membership to the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, which lists learning through diversity as a core value; the International Teaching Assistant Program; the McNair Scholars Program; and the Glimpse into Graduate School Seminar Program.

School of Health Professions

Courses in all curricula teach concepts regarding cultural differences and competencies. Research and volunteer work also allow students to work with diverse groups of people.

"Understanding a patient's culture is a necessary component for students to become effective clinicians," the document states.

College of Human Environmental Sciences

The college's mission statement, as well as each department's mission statement, includes its focus on global diversity, which is worked into various courses.

Some departments teach multiculturalism as part of their national accreditation requirements. 

Other departments have specific programs that expose students to diversity. For example, the Human Development and Family Studies Department also sponsors a diversity lectureship each year, and the Personal Financial Planning Department prepares income tax returns for low-income residents free of charge.

School of Journalism

The school requires students to take Cross-Cultural Journalism, a course in which students think critically about societal issues and understand how journalism helps provide diverse points of view in a democracy.

Students are expected to implement what they learned in Cross-Cultural Journalism as they work in professionally oriented newsrooms and advertising agencies in upper-level courses.

School of Law

The school strives to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty and staff to enrich their professional and personal experiences. Students can work with diverse clients in clinical and externship opportunities.

The school's student and faculty diversity committee, director of diversity initiatives and outreach, and student organizations also work to engage the community in an ongoing dialogue about diversity.

School of Medicine

Medical students learn to provide effective patient centered care, a component of which is culturally effective care. Students also look at their own sociocultural backgrounds and how they affect physician-patient interactions.

Some faculty members participated in the Inclusion Institute for Health Care, an intensive three-day workshop.

Sinclair School of Nursing

Undergraduate courses of all levels incorporate the concept of diversity, whether with discussions about cultural competency or problem-solving involving symptoms that appear in diverse individuals.

Some graduate school courses, such as Health Disparities of Rural and Other Underserved Populations, are specifically concerned with diversity. The school also has a diversity task force and a diversity recruitment and retention adviser.

College of Veterinary Medicine

The college trains students through instruction and clinical rotations on how to effectively communicate with diverse clients. The student-run organization Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity also addresses the need for sociocultural awareness.

The committee has been working on these statements since the general faculty rejected a proposal for a required diversity course in May 2011.

The committee came up with these statements after getting faculty feedback about the proposed course requirement, which included that the requirement was too restrictive, might be used as a "check-off" course and didn't have a way of determining effectiveness, Bentley said.

The statements can be updated at any time, Bentley said.

The committee is also working with Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain to implement a nationally normed diversity assessment, which will be taken by freshmen and seniors. The assessment will measure the change in students' cultural competency during their time at MU, Bentley said.

The School of Music, the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, the School of Accountancy, the Truman School of Public Affairs and the School of Social Work did not submit diversity enhancement statements by April 15, but as schools, their statements might have fallen under colleges, Bentley said.

They will have the opportunity to add their own statements, he said.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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