The Applied Cultural Identity course at NC State began in September 2021 and has since generated more than 200 completions in its self-paced, interactive curriculum. The program creates an inclusive environment to learn about the effects of cultures on society.
Melissa Edwards Smith, Director of Education and Campus Engagement for the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (IOED) Inclusive Excellence and Strategic Practice Team, founded and designed the course at NC State.
“I think I started this summer…putting the information together and coming up with the different modules that we would use to walk people through the information,” Smith said. “It really took until the very last day, with the help of my team and others, to launch it at NC State.”
The Applied Cultural Identity course does not use a moderated discussion or instructor, allowing learners to complete it at their own pace using the REPORTER system. REPORTER states that this course teaches others how to “identify key concepts of culture and cultural awareness, apply cultural identity concepts for self-awareness, and explore how identities manifest in interpersonal situations.
This course is free and its duration is estimated at two hours.
“[It] presents the material in a very interactive way, so lots of clicking through the diagrams and scrolling through the cool books you’re using and looking at pictures and videos,” Smith said. “At the end of the small sections, there will be a short quiz to gauge how much learning you retain.”
Will Leggett, Human Resources Integration Specialist, participated in the certificate program.
“[This] certificate and [the Applied Cultural Identity] the class in particular really got deep into cultural identity and kind of using yourself and self-reflection and discovering your cultural identity,” Leggett said.
When designing this course, Smith said his goal was to help faculty and staff create more inclusive spaces on campus. Smith and Leggett believe this course is accessible and valuable for people of all ages and backgrounds.
“You don’t need to have a degree. … Many of the topics discussed are things that are discussed [in] a lot of different areas,” Leggett said.
To make education about the effects of cultures on society more accessible, Smith applied her instructional design skills to ensure the course was inclusive of everyone at NC State.
“There has been a huge demand for more courses on diversity, inclusion and equity,” Smith said. “We have tried to meet this demand in different ways.”
The course is part of the Inclusive Excellence Certificate program, of which there are three other in-person workshops.
“You are not required to be part of the certificate program [to complete the course], the reason behind this is that so many people were trying to access our courses, but they were already full,” Smith said. “It’s a way to reach a much larger audience without having to deliver these workshops in person.”
Leggett believes this course helped him gain a new perspective on how he interacts with his colleagues and others on campus.
“Especially at NC State, we interact with people from all over the world every day,” Leggett said. “I think just being able to have a bit more knowledge of our own culture, identity and [of] those we interact with would simply help the campus to be a more inclusive environment.
Students wishing to participate in the online course can register via JOURNALIST.