College Executive Summaries
College of Agriculture
Faculty and students defined multiculturalism as "many cultures ." Though multicultural competence was considered a critical skill for College of Agriculture graduates, both faculty and students acknowledged that, within the present curriculum, global diversity issues were more typically presented than national issues. The students would like to see multicultural issues impacting the United States emphasized. Students have primarily relied upon classes outside the College of Agriculture to gain multicultural knowledge and skills.
Faculty appeared to be supportive of multicultural curriculum infusion though they were unsure of the steps to optimally carry out the process. Students did not speak with one voice on the curriculum issue. Some preferred to see multicultural education broadly infused in the curriculum, while those who favored separate course(s) were divided upon whether to make them required or optional. Students expressed the importance of seeking multicultural experiences outside the classroom, and both faculty and students supported increased opportunities for students in the area of study abroad.
Both faculty and students conveyed the importance of practicing multicultural competence. Students articulated specific competencies sought by employers, such as adaptability, communication skills, and ability to speak more than one language. Faculty recognized the importance of these competencies, and were not confident that they were being adequately addressed in the current curriculum.
Both faculty and students thought that international faculty and G.T.A. = s served as an important and principal source of multicultural learning, especially as it relates to cultural influences on behavior.
College of Architecture, Planning and Design
Both the students and faculty emphasized "differences" when defining multiculturalism. The faculty group emphasized preparation for the workplace and international markets, whereas the students believed that multicultural competence was more of a personal concern that would likely benefit them professionally. Faculty and students acknowledged that communication skills--especially those employed in cross cultural interaction--were critical to success in the fields of architecture, planning and design. Students spent considerable time discussing the creation of multicultural competence as a lifelong learning process and challenge.
While faculty and students groups agreed that multiculturally competent graduates would likely become better professionals and better people, faculty recognized that the process of helping students develop these competencies would be a difficult challenge. However, they pointed out, the College did provide regular opportunities for multicultural learning through study abroad and through exposure to foreign exchange students and speakers.
Again, students weren't sure that the College or university should systematically prepare them in multicultural competence. Rather, they saw the learning process as one of personal , individual initiative. Students asserted that their most successful multicultural learning experiences were outside the classroom--and often outside the College.
College of Arts and Sciences
Both faculty and the students preferred to broaden the definition of multiculturalism from one of "race and ethnicity" to one that would encompass additional facets of human diversity. Emphasis was placed on open mindedness and a proactive approach to learning of the world's many cultures. One faculty characterized multiculturalism as a prevalent "code word" or "buzz word" in contemporary discussion.
Faculty believed that many students needed a more clear understanding of multicultural curriculum, although that curriculum was left undefined. The students expressed the desire for a curriculum that would introduce them to other cultures and that would "open their eyes." Whereas the students in the Humanities/Social Science focus group professed the significance of such a course of study, they felt that students in other academic programs might need guidance and exposure to arrive at a similar conclusion.
Both faculty and students found some courses in the present curriculum that offered students a chance to develop multicultural knowledge and skills. Both also advocated creating opportunities outside the classroom. Faculty hoped students would take advantage of such opportunities. Students believed it was their personal responsibility to seek out those opportunities.
Faculty came to no conclusion on the definition of "multicultural competence," but students had very specific ideas about what competence might include. Both conceded that the development of such competence would need to be personal and ongoing.
Both groups recognized the importance of multicultural competence to Arts and Sciences graduates. The lists of prospective employer's expectations in this regard were remarkably similar in both faculty and student groups and included communication skills, working well with others, and being open to new ideas.
College of Business Administration
Faculty and students similarly described multiculturalism as a state of multiple cultures and backgrounds. Although faculty recognized the importance of a respectful attitude among diverse groups, they were unsure of how to achieve it or instill it in their graduates. Meaningful discussion among the students pivoted upon the concept of cultural assimilation versus the retention of distinct cultural identities--the "melting pot" versus the "salad bowl."
Overall, both faculty and students agreed that multicultural competence is important and relevant in the preparation of Business Administration graduates. They also agreed that cross cultural communication was important to the competency building process. Students regarded as significant the objectives of second language acquisition and of multicultural learning opportunities both abroad and in the United States.
Both faculty and students agreed that there was greater opportunity to learn multicultural knowledge and skills in elective courses that concentrate on diversity than in those offered through the College's business curriculum. Faculty contended that current accreditation standards did not provide guidelines for multicultural curriculum infusion, but rather focused multicultural efforts on the recruitment of a diverse student body and faculty. Finally, faculty and students recognized that multicultural learning, which occurred outside the classroom, encouraged the development of multicultural competence.
College of Education
Faculty and students agreed that "multiculturalism" and "multicultural competence" were critical concepts for the College of Education and for their profession. Both faculty and student discussions reflected diverse viewpoints. Faculty discussed some of the negative connotations of multiculturalism that had arisen during their interactions with students and faculty and identified program challenges these connotations created. Students did not identify any negative reactions or connotations during their discussion.
Faculty appeared to have more awareness of where the curriculum provided exposure to multicultural knowledge and skills than did students. They not only described specific classes, but also emphasized the positive multicultural experiences achieved during student teaching assignments. Students praised the BESITOS Program as a model of multicultural learning and exposure within the College. Although students identified only one classroom opportunity for multicultural learning within the College, they were familiar with several classes outside the College where multicultural knowledge and skills were made available to them.
Faculty and students believed that one would have to evolve through successive levels of understanding to arrive at true multicultural competence. Students stressed the importance of seeking independent multicultural learning experiences, and faculty expressed the need for multicultural in-service education. One student also noted that the "classroom [was] only as effective as the teachers."
College of Engineering
Both faculty and students agreed that multicultural competence was relevant in the education of College of Engineering undergraduates. Both groups focused on differences when defining multiculturalism. However, faculty concentrated much more in their discussion on diversity as represented in the global market, and students talked more about differences among people in general.
Faculty and students acknowledged that the opportunities for developing multicultural competencies were limited within the College of Engineering. Both mentioned student contact with faculty members from other countries and cultures as being positive. Several faculty and students asserted that students now gained most of their multicultural awareness and skill through classes, activities, and organizations outside the College of Engineering.
All agreed that providing undergraduates with opportunities to develop multicultural competence was critical. Students asserted that the College and the University had a responsibility to provide them with the experiences necessary to function effectively in a diverse world. Faculty noted that the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) criteria now compelled the College to demonstrate how they have prepared students to live and work in a diverse world.
College of Human Ecology
A Family Studies and Human Services faculty member said multiculturalism meant "creating space for people with lots of differences in background, where there is not a push for assimilation, not a push for everyone to be alike, but an inclusiveness and curiosity about differences as well as similarities." Students voiced a concern that multiculturalism was misunderstood on campus and not actualized, and that change would not occur quickly. One Diversity Committee member feared that multiculturalism meant nothing and was just a buzz word, and another remarked that it might be "more a construct...how people should live their lives." The College Diversity Committee as a whole expressed a desire for College faculty to be more sensitive to diversity, especially as it related to cross cultural interaction among the faculty and with students.
Student perceptions of a multicultural curriculum included opportunities for them to "understand their own diversity within a nurturing classroom environment." Although they believed these opportunities should be available in all classes, they also hoped to see them made available through field experiences outside the classroom. A member of the Family Studies and Human Services group was afraid that "multicultural curriculum often meant the tourist approach, taking snapshots of different geographical regions and drawing from stereotypes of those people." Diversity Committee members thought a multicultural curriculum would be a "planned program to introduce others' ethnicity, others' cultures to those who have not had any experience with cultures outside their own."
Family Studies and Human Services faculty mentioned several classes ("Family Systems in Cultural Context" and Child Development 310") and family therapy assessment strategies as places students were exposed to multicultural knowledge, skills and practice within the current curriculum. Diversity Committee members pointed to elective options such as "American Ethnic Studies" where students are exposed to multicultural knowledge. Students mentioned several additional classes; however, they stated that multicultural knowledge "is not totally integrated within the Family Studies and Human Services classes, and many times it is discussed at the end of class." Neither faculty group knew of accreditation guidelines that called for a multicultural curriculum. Rather, accreditation guidelines were thought to emphasize multicultural representation in faculty and student populations.
Faculty and students perceived multicultural competence as knowledge, attitudes and skills that would lead to a level of comfort in working with those of different races and cultures. A Family Studies and Human Services faculty member specifically noted that family therapy employers would look for graduates that could "pick up enough information [in client interactions] to understand factors that shape a child's developmental competence."
Focus Group issues important to students were: education on gender and sexual preference, creating a diverse university environment, and a faculty who were more sensitive to multiculturalism. Faculty called for a shared definition and interpretation of multiculturalism as a fundamental step toward better communication, and as a foundation to further agreement on goals and objectives for multicultural enrichment at the university.
College of Technology and Aviation
Multiculturalism has diverse meaning to faculty. Some participants perceived it as an inclusive, broad-based concept, while others recognize the "confusion" and "fear" the word alone will generate. The faculty were not clear on what is a multicultural curriculum. However, some faculty perceived it as necessary, others questioned if there will be a "genuine buy-in to the concept." Faculty perceived there were few opportunities for students to acquire multicultural knowledge, skills and practice within the current curriculum.
Faculty were not aware of how accreditation guidelines influenced how they prepared students to live and work in a diverse world. Participants had various multicultural competence definitions, ranging from knowledge and skills and "feeling confident" in multicultural situations. All participants agreed that multicultural competence is relevant to the preparation of the Salina campus graduates, but this is not occurring.
Students had diverse opinions about multiculturalism. Student discussion did yield words such as "confusing, complicated, scary, barriers, separation, and takes away a person's individuality." Students did not understand multicultural curriculum. Many students expressed that a multicultural curriculum would be seen as a "required course," which several students opposed.
Students expressed the presence of international faculty and the "University Experience" class as a primary though limited avenue for learning multicultural knowledge, skills and practice. Multicultural competence, in contrast to earlier discussion, was seen as valuable by the students and relevant to future employment. Faculty also noted its significance and regretted that more of it was not happening at the Salina campus.
College of Veterinary Medicine (Based on Student Focus Group Only)
Students viewed "culture" to be more than ethnic groupings, and believed that it was important that "individuals respect and appreciate each person's cultural self." One student said, "Multiculturalism is what the United States stands for--people respecting others' cultures."
Students saw a "stronger university community" resulting from the implementation of a multicultural curriculum. One suggested that a "specific class [to teach students] how to interact with people," might satisfy the need for multicultural learning. Whereas, another suggested that forming friendships in a diverse student body and faculty could be considered "as much a part of the curriculum as the schooling." In the "streamlined" curriculum at Veterinary Medicine, most multicultural learning was said to come through informal interactions among diverse faculty and students.
Multicultural competence was thought to be characterized by confident and responsive cross cultural interaction built upon the trait of open mindedness. Students recognized that learning and practicing cross cultural communication skills would be important in their future professional practice. One student remarked, "I come from a small town. I do not want to stay there. I want to leave the Midwest, to see another part of the world. I need multicultural competence." Students also agreed that they would benefit from learning a second language.