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GTI’s Developing Cultural Competence Certificate Program Builds Global Bridges in the Midst of a Pandemic

The Developing Cultural Competence (DCC) certificate program was first launched in 2018 with 49 students participating in at least three of the workshops and a total of nine students graduating from the program. Participation quickly increased as, by 2019, 72 students had already graduated, and just last year in 2020, an impressive 281 students from NC State, SKEMA, and 32 partner institutions completed the program.

NC State University’s Global Training Initiative (GTI) has spent many years developing cross-cultural training programs that would be engaging and effective for students and professionals. Specifically, GTI offers a virtual cultural exchange experience to NC State students and students at NC State’s global partner institutions.

There are 259 students enrolled in the February DCC sessions. Sixty of the participants are NC State students, and the roster is rounded out by participants from partner institutions in China, Colombia, and SKEMA Business School. The program will continue to run throughout the spring semester, and GTI is currently recruiting for additional sessions through March and April.

Jamie Earley who completed the December 2019 session, said that “The program was about connection and application of cultural knowledge through talking to people from different cultures.” Similarly, Sofia Marin who participated in the Summer 2020 session stated that “The DCC makes you realize how much culture impacts our daily lives and it helps you grow in respect and tolerance of other cultures in this era of globalization.”

The Developing Cultural Competence (DCC) certificate program consists of self-paced learning activities and four 90-minute live Zoom sessions that facilitate discussion and cultural exchange among its participants. Overall, the DCC provides a framework to discuss cultural differences among participants. It gives students the tools to talk about diversity, inclusion, and equity in different cultural settings which is a crucial component of cultural competency. Several GTI staff have been trained to lead signature OIED workshops and work also involves delivering course content inside the classroom experience.

Zoom session showing students' profile pictures
Zoom session showing a poll of what the students’ majors are.

“GTI has always sought to find ways to help our NC State students increase their global awareness and competence. In the past, we’ve been able to connect them with our special groups of overseas students who would come to NC State for academic programs. Interestingly, the global pandemic forced us to shift this model to a fully online program and that has opened the doors for more students to participate from various parts of the world,” says Assistant Director Ilin Misaras.

Due to the success of the program, the College of Engineering is offering a pilot of the program to all First Year students in the 2021 Spring semester as a way for students to further their cultural competency skills. Although currently only half of the students can be accommodated, the aim is to offer the program to the full cohort of students (1500) for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. Becky Cibulskis, the DCC program coordinator, also hopes to feature past participants in the videos of learning content. Even after the pandemic, the DCC will likely remain an online program offering global connections.