Intercultural program underway

March 28, 2013 - 9:49pm

Gerardo Sandoval is well aware of the changing employment trends and how they can affect students entering the workforce.

“It is important for students to gain experience working in multicultural environments,” said the assistant professor in Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon. “Oregon is quickly becoming a more diverse state and our students need to have the skills, knowledge and practical experience to make positive changes in ethnically diverse communities.”

An interdisciplinary two-year pilot program at UO that combines intercultural competency training with professional development is addressing the increasing need for diversity in the workplace.

Recognizing that the UO had a gap in multicultural education options, Sandoval coordinated with the Center for Latino/a Latin American Studies to develop the Intercultural Competency Program. The ICP offers graduate students from any discipline theoretical and applied components of intercultural career training.

ICP consists of two classes and an intercultural internship experience. The winter term class, “Public Participation in Diverse Communities,” is taught by Sandoval. This field-experiential course exposes students to Oregon communities that are experiencing rapid cultural changes.

The second course, “Difference and Power in Institutions and Public Spaces,” will be offered during summer term’s zero week starting June 24. This course will examine critical race theory and minority histories and policies, while offering field observations.

The program culminates with an intercultural internship in summer or fall. Students enrolled in the ICP are eligible to receive a $1,000 scholarship to support the internship.

The cross-cultural competency job requirement is seen across many disciplines, said Eli Meyer, assistant director of the Center for Latino/a Latin American Studies.

“We found that graduate students are getting specialized degrees such as business, planning, or biology, which does not necessarily prepare them for a changing workforce and the new job requirements with preferences for people who have experiences working cross-culturally or working in diverse environments,” Meyer said.

Community organizations and minority development groups in Oregon said they support ICP’s approach and will work with interns.

“ICP will help students begin to grasp just how dynamic and pervasive issues surrounding cultural competency are – both in the academic world and in the workplace,” said Joanna Bernstein, communications coordinator at Huerto de La Familia, a Eugene nonprofit for Latino families.

Students seeking more information should contact Meyer at 541-346-5714 or The classes are open to undergraduates, but the program is only available to graduate students.

- by Joe McAndrew, UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts