By Felicia Santarossa
Monday Magazine contributor
Communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills are increasingly desired by employers in the modern workforce.
Since 1996, UVic’s Continuing Studies’ Intercultural Studies and Practice diploma program has fostered such skills in an increasingly multicultural landscape. Students bolster their communication skills regarding people of different cultures, races, genders and abilities. This is something director Tania Muir sees as a growing demand in both the public and private sector.
“We know that we’re going to work with diverse colleagues and diverse communities and populations as part of our work in a myriad of different sectors,” she says. “It’s not just specific areas that we need to be able to bring this knowledge skill-set to our work. We’re finding that employers are really looking upon this favorably that alongside similar degrees, this additional credential really gives them the leg up.”
The program combines courses from gender studies, history, linguistics, and sociology, which students can take and tailor along with their current undergraduate degree.
The program isn’t afraid to tackle topics like racism in Canada, privilege and gender politics. While classes on topics such as race and ethnicity in Canada already exist, says Muir, bringing all these topics together within a diploma program was new. With the Me Too movement in the air, Muir is grateful for the interdisciplinary nature of the program, saying they have faculty and sessional instructors sharing their current knowledge and ideas within these areas.
“As courses in those departments evolve, so too, does the program for our learners,” she says. Such change has been happening in the Gender Studies department, and others, Muir adds.
Through the process of combining these different topics, a significant development for the Intercultural Studies and Practice programs has been the acknowledgement of intercultural communication as its own skill set, she says.
If people working in a global context lack the knowledge and skills to communicate with diverse populations, their efforts to recruit, hire and supervise people of diverse backgrounds may be unsuccessful, Muir notes.
Registration for this program and others is open for January 2020. For more information, check out continuingstudies.uvic.ca/.