Graduate Courses: Culture, Identity and Social Change 

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. U.S. Latino subgroups differ considerably in a variety of characteristics. This complexity requires that the training and ongoing professional education must include the development of ethnic and culturally specific knowledge and skills for working effectively with Puerto Ricans. 

Centro’s proposed activities are based on a pedagogical approach that places a high priority on the use of a student-centered, participatory, project-oriented model of learning. The content exposes students to the theories of cultural competence and, through experiential learning, to effective professional practice. Courses will engage students in real-life problem solving in collaboration with professionals in targeted organizations and industries. This connection to the community and the profession is an essential component of the program, as it intends to highlight to the students that a graduate education provides a powerful tool to affect positive social change.

So far we have developed and participate in two graduate courses sponsored by the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and the School of Social Work:

  • Making a Difference: Understanding Culture, Identities and Social Change: In this course we examine cultural competency as behaviors and attitudes that empower professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. We explore the role of culture in the operations of programs, organizations, and government services and agencies, from a perspective that focuses on how racial and ethnic identities, and the networks and reciprocity that result from such identities, affect social processes and outcomes. 
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  • The Neighborhood Lab: This course intends to engage students in projects that offer the opportunity to observe and change professional practices to be more responsive to the needs and uniqueness of culturally diverse communities.