Educators focus on unification of multicultural learning at symposium

By Cecile Schoberle
By Staff

On Nov. 5, the Office of International Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver and the Auraria Library hosted the Symposium on Diversity and Campus Internationalization, an effort to examine the opportunities and challenges at the intersection of diversity, education and internationalization. The 47 participants included staff and faculty from UC Denver, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Anschutz Medical Campus, Community College of Denver and Metropolitan State College.

The symposium focused on the challenges of clearly defining the language people use to describe ethnic and cultural differences, refining the approaches used to prevent misunderstanding, and comprehending the commitment and understanding required to address both the challenges and the opportunities of functioning in a multicultural global educational context.

Special guests at the symposium were: Gailda Pitre Davis, associate director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity, American Council on Education; Christa Olson, associate director of the Center for International Initiatives, American Council on Education; and Hillary Hughes, Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Carolyn North, assistant vice chancellor of international affairs, introduced the event by noting the national level of concern that students from diverse backgrounds are underrepresented in study abroad program participation. This creates a disadvantage for them at a time when preparedness for global careers and for globally competent citizenship is essential for success and civic literacy in the 21st Century.

Hughes pointed out the differences in learning styles of students from diverse cultures, and the need to unify how educators communicate with multicultural groups.

"Unfortunately, we do not emphasize what domestic students can learn from international students on campus," Hughes said. "We should have collaborative learning approaches that build upon all students' strengths."

The Office of International Affairs at UC Denver is continuing to address diversity and inclusion issues and to seek solutions through multiple avenues. Two new diversity initiatives will be launched this year, the International Student Success Initiative and the Diversity in Global Education Initiative.