Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Perceptions of Cultural Competency and Acceptance among College Students: Implications for Diversity Awareness in Higher Education

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Perceptions of Cultural Competency and Acceptance among College Students: Implications for Diversity Awareness in Higher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

t appears cultural diversity, especially in higher education, continues to be a focal point in the United States and as addressed in multiple issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education (Mangan, 2017, "The 2015 Honor...", 2015). Classrooms are changing by including students of various races, backgrounds, religions and abilities (Moore & Hansen, 2012). The inclusion of diversity in academic institutions is an essential component to teaching students the human relations and analytic skills needed to thrive and lead in the work environments of the twenty-first century (Gurin, Dey, Hurtado, & Gurin, 2002). Specific skills include the abilities to work effectively with colleagues and subordinates from diverse backgrounds; to view issues from multiple perspectives; and to anticipate and respond with sensitivity to the needs and cultural differences of highly diverse customers, colleagues, employees, and global business partners (Gurin, Dey, Hurtado, & Gurin, 2002). Others note that knowledge of how culture influences disease and treatment behaviors can aid health professionals to display appropriate interactions with diverse populations (Seeleman, Suurmond & Stronks, 2009). As health practice expands globally, delivering culturally sensitive care by developing a level of cultural competence becomes a requirement. Various institutions and programs have sought to analyze factors associated with diversity. Some (Maxwell, 2011; Pettigrew, 1998; Summers & Volet, 2008) noted improvement in cultural awareness and competency following experiences with different cultures. Others have explored emotional reactions (Baumgartner & Johnson-Bailey, 2008), use of negative experiences (Bowman & Brandenbergerm, 2012), and use of personal anecdotes (Haslerig, et al., 2013). Culturally competent health professionals are needed to help reduce racial and ethnic disparities, which may be linked to health disparities (Like, 2011).

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau (2015) suggest that demographic shifts are occurring in the United States and the expectation is that by 2050, minority populations will increase to 48% of the total population. Perhaps, emphasis is needed to address ethnic and cultural diversity throughout the academic environment. The Multiculturalism/ Diversity Curriculum (2012) suggests that positive multicultural interactions and understandings, through having role models from a variety of backgrounds, ought to be promoted among students, faculty, and the staff. Faculty and administration may also strive to reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity within the United States, and schools have a duty to conduct ongoing, systematic evaluations of the goals, methods, and instructional materials used in teaching about ethnic and cultural diversity ("Multiculturalism/Diversity Curriculum...", 2012). Helping students understand the experiences of ethnic and cultural groups within the academic setting is a necessary component of a culturally competent curriculum. Additionally, recommendations for culturally competent curricula provide students with continuous opportunities to develop a better sense of self; understand the experiences of ethnic and cultural groups in the United States; develop skills necessary for effective interpersonal, interethnic, and intercultural group interactions; and promote values, attitudes, and behaviors that support ethnic pluralism and cultural diversity ("Multiculturalism/Diversity Curriculum...", 2012). Culturally competent care is described as services that are provided in ways that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices, and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse patients (National Institutes of Health [NIH], 2015). Culture is a nebulous concept which makes defining it challenging (Bonder, Martin, & Miracle, 2004; Hunt 2005). While culture is clearly and often linked with race and ethnicity, it is often defined in ways that supersede these elements. …

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