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The Tilford Group

Multicultural Competency Development: Preparing Students to Live and Work in a Diverse World

Multicultural competency is defined as the knowledge, skills and personal attributes needed to live and work in a diverse world.  Kansas State University acknowledges the importance of helping students develop these multicultural competencies.   In 2000-2001 the Tilford Group conducted focus groups with faculty and students. The following synthesis of multicultural competencies was compiled as a result of what was learned from those and subsequent discussions.


I.  Knowledge -- Awareness and understanding needed to live and work in a diverse world. 

  • Cultural Self -- The ability to understand one's ethnic identity and how it influences identity development.
  • Diverse Ethnic Groups -- Knowledge of diverse ethnic groups and their cultures.
  • Social/Political/Economic/Historical Frameworks -- Awareness of how social, political, economic and historical issues impact race and ethnic relations in the world.
  • Changing Demographics -- Understanding population dynamics related to ethnic minority and majority citizens.
  • Diversity Implications for Career--Understanding how diversity impacts the academic discipline, career and professional development.

II. Personal Attributes -- Traits needed by those who live and work in a diverse world.

  • Flexibility -- The ability to respond and adapt to new and changing situations.
  • Respect -- An appreciation for those who are different from one's self.
  • Empathy -- The ability to understand another person's culture by listening to and understanding their perspective.

III. Skills -- Behaviors and performance tasks needed to live and work in a diverse world.

  • Cross Cultural Communication -- Verbal and nonverbal communication skills in interaction with those who are culturally different from one's self.
  • Teamwork -- The ability to work in culturally diverse groups toward a common goal.
  • Listening -- The intention and ability to attend to what others are saying.
  • Conflict Resolution -- The ability to resolve cultural conflicts that occur between individuals and groups.
  • Critical Thinking -- The ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning to understand diverse perspectives.
  • Language Development -- The ability to speak and write more than one language.
  • Leadership Development -- The ability to provide multicultural leadership.

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