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CPE launches new certification program aimed at helping train a culturally competent workforce

The Council on Postsecondary Education has launched a new process to review and certify cultural competency credential programs offered by Kentucky colleges and universities. The Cultural Competency Credential Certification Program was unveiled at the Council’s 2021 Higher EDquity Symposium hosted by Western Kentucky University.

“Being able to effectively communicate with those from different backgrounds, appreciating intersectionality and being open to diverse perspectives are essential skills for today’s workforce,” said Dawn Offutt, CPE’s executive director of initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion. “This statewide certification process is a way to ensure Kentucky students, faculty and staff at our public colleges and universities are getting high-quality, consistent opportunities to develop well-defined competencies.”

The Council requires Kentucky’s public higher education institutions to include strategies to increase cultural competency on campuses in their annual diversity, equity and inclusion plans. One option is for colleges to offer micro-credentials to students, staff and faculty.

To earn a cultural competency micro-credential, faculty and staff are required to complete a minimum of eight professional development hours, while students are required to complete at least six credit hours of coursework. The cultural competency framework provides a foundation for aligning curriculum with learning outcomes for identifying and rectifying personal and organizational biases, increasing self-awareness, developing social skills around diversity and developing an action plan to advocate for equity.

For the purposes of this process, micro-credentials for students are defined as “institutional acknowledgements of academic, evidenced-based competencies that result in essential skills and may be part of college coursework, but may or may not be directly awarded university, college, department and program credit.” Micro-credentials do not replace classes, certificates or degrees.

The process for an institution’s micro-credential program to be recognized as a certified Kentucky Cultural Competency Credential begins with submitting a proposal for review by the Council’s Cultural Competency Advisory Council, a group of faculty and staff representatives from Kentucky’s two- and four-year public institutions. The advisory council will then provide feedback and may suggest modifications to the program before the institution submits it for final approval by CPE’s Academic and Strategic Initiatives Committee.

“The workplace is becoming increasingly diverse, and our global economy often requires employees to work in cross-cultural environments,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “We are doing students a disservice if we don’t provide them with structured, intentional systems to gain cultural competencies while they are still in college. Changing demographics are also reflected on college campuses. Faculty and staff must be able to establish trust with a diverse student population and model the values of equity, diversity and inclusion in their daily interactions.”

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

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