Intercultural awareness and cultural competence are tools which are increasingly needed in teaching and learning, and this need is heightened in the context of preparing professionals and students for areas of practice. Health care workers and Social care workers find themselves at the coal face of meeting the needs of often vulnerable groups within an increasingly complex matrix of services and provisions. Preparing such practitioners to develop culturally competent skills, knowledge and attitudes demands that Higher Education Institutes engage in interdisciplinary cultural competence training for both staff and students, particularly those in health care and professional practice settings..
The School of Applied Social Studies and the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork have been working in collaboration with Doras Luimní (a Limerick based migrant organisation, which specialises in intercultural training) in developing scope for multicultural training and awareness building at university level for both staff, students and health profesionals. We are currently examining ways to develop a university-wide module, focusing on the importance of cultural competence in teaching and learning practices. This initiative aims to develop the scope for acquiring cultural competence in teaching and work practice, while also building on previous initiatives to incorporate the development of specific modules at both undergraduate and post-graduate level with a focus on intercultural communication. This is building on the success of previous seminars and workshops with the intention of developing modules in Intercultural communication which could effectively cut across all disciplines. The core aim of the initiative is to examine the need for intercultural training and how it can be more deeply embedded in teaching, learning and work practices. Currently the focus is on health and social professions but the scope for the delivery of generic modules is also being explored.
The experiences of this initiative and assessing the benefits of undertaking intercultural training will be presented in this paper.