Kathy Francis, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management (MACEM) had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at the 19th Annual Emergency Management Higher Education Symposium regarding “Education as Part of a Broader National Preparedness System.”
Kathy’s insight is shared in the third of four installments.
Question 3. Any exemplary practices that you may have observed or experienced regarding building your programs’ inclusiveness?
As an exemplary practice, Frederick Community College (FCC) begins building program inclusiveness from the very top. The College has a President’s Diversity Advisory Committee that provides overall coordination and direction on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Practices are established that guide the hiring process of our program staff, student outreach and marketing initiatives, and annual professional development. The College deliberately reaches out to underrepresented communities with a message of acceptance, regardless of differences.
For the first time, the College held a “Day of Human Understanding” for the purpose of supporting continued development of cultural competence for all members of the College community. FCC faculty members were encouraged to bring their classes to the sessions or to offer extra credit to students for attending.
To give you an idea of the type of content that was covered, the day offered workshops such as:
- Dignity: The Role It Plays in Our Lives and Relationships – a keynote address by Dr. Donna Hicks in which she addressed creating cultures that foster innovation and dignified human relationships.
- Homelessness in America: It’s Not What it Used to Be – discussion on how the state of homelessness has changed all together in the past 10 years.
- Campus Book Discussion: Power and Point of View (on Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred) – a panel composed of students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds discussed their own experiences of feeling disempowered by an environment in which they found themselves, where they are now with these feelings of disempowerment, and how they found agency.
- Actors, Allies, and Accomplices: The Journey from Awareness to Action – an interactive workshop in which participants engaged in self-reflection, current issues within the social justice context, and actions that challenge one’s comfort zones.
- Know Your Rights: Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and You – discussions on the history and meaning and tools for understanding and improving cultural communication.
Cultural competency remains a part of the College degree requirements, and the program includes one course that met the College Curriculum Committee’s cultural competency outcomes. We developed two interdisciplinary diversity seminars to keep our emergency management community focused on diversity.