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Student Affairs Campus Diversity Activities
and Learning Reconsidered

A previous article already discussed how college diversity can fits in with the ideas presented in Learning Reconsidered, a document released jointly by NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) and ACPA (American College Personnel Association) in 2004.  Student affairs staff are now taking into consideration the ideas of this landmark document when planning various campus activities for students.

That article gave a brief description of what Learning Reconsidered was all about as well as how campus diversity programs can address one of the outcomes, namely Humanitarianism.  Humanitarianism involves the understanding and appreciation of other people and their differences.  This would be the most obvious outcome that diversity can address.  It was also suggested that at least three other outcomes can also be achieved if a diversity event was structured right.  These other three will be identified here.

The outcome Cognitive Complexity involves reflective thinking about important issues of today’s society.  Given that North America has become so diverse with people of many different ethnicities, cultures, religions and languages, diversity is certainly an important issue.  But we must also include differences in sexual orientation and whether an individual is handicapped or not as part of overall diversity since everyone has the potential to be a positive contributor to society.  Everyone regardless of differences should be included and student affairs professionals should ensure that programs benefit as many students as possible.

A diversity program that makes students think about multiculturalism and other differences between people in ways they have never thought of before will contribute to Cognitive Complexity.  For example, a session that highlights certain benefits of a diverse society can be a real eye opener to many college students.

Another Learning Reconsidered outcome is Knowledge Acquisition, Integration and Application.  This outcome involves students learning specific skills that they can apply to their daily lives on campus as well as in their future careers.  A diversity program that includes some practical skills on how students can use diversity to enrich their lives and possibly give them an edge in their careers will most definitely achieve this particular outcome.  Skills that teach students to interact successfully with others who are different from them would be extremely worthwhile.

A fourth learning outcome can be Inter and Intrapersonal Competence.  This outcome involves how well people can interact with others.   One of the most important skills that any student can ever learn is dealing effectively with other people, i.e., people skills.  It has been suggested that the most successful people in any field are very good with people skills.  These soft social skills will often determine who become the true leaders in society and careers across all professions.  Unfortunately, these types of skills are not often taught in classrooms or courses so student affairs staff can help students develop them through other means.

Since our world is becoming a global economy and there is so much diversity in North America, the development of people skills and diversity skills actually go hand in hand now.  Dealing effectively with people in general will mean that one can be effective with lots of different types of individuals in a diverse environment.  

A diversity program or event must include some type of interaction between students who are different from each other in order for it to address the outcome of Inter and Intrapersonal Competence.  It could involve group activities during such workshops or having ethnic minorities interact with students during a cultural festival.  As long as there is interaction, this outcome will be addressed.

So in summary, no less than four possible outcomes of Learning Reconsidered can be achieved with the right campus diversity program.  Student affairs staff should aim to program events that address Learning Reconsidered outcomes whenever possible.

To possibly book me as a diversity speaker as part of your campus diversity program, see my College Speaking Programs.

 

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