MSU 'intercultural' badges aid students with 'career readiness'

MSU will roll out a new three-semester program in which students can earn "intercultural" badges.

The university suggested the program will help students stand out to prospective employers.

A new program at Michigan State University allows students to earn “intercultural competence” badges to increase their “career readiness.”

The badges include: “Self-Awareness and Awareness & Understanding of Others Who are Different from You, Recognition of Cultural Differences, Intercultural Engagement and Engagement Across Difference, and Recognition of Equity and Inequity.” 

MSU says the “high-impact certificate program will highlight MSU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, enhance students’ capacity to engage respectfully across difference…[and] provide students the opportunity to learn more about themselves and others...” 

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The three-semester program, “Diversity, Inclusion & Intercultural Competency” is available to current undergraduate students with expected graduation dates of spring 2020 or after. Each student will be assigned a mentor and will earn the four badges, along with an “applied learning/capstone project,” to obtain the certification.

MSU’s Intercultural Pillar Team, which includes members from MSU’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Office of Institutional Equity, Student Affairs and Services, Office for International Students & Scholars, Center for Integrative Studies in Social Science, and the Office for Cultural and Academic Transitions; sent an email, obtained by Campus Reform, stating that 20 students will be accepted into the program.

The goal, listed in a flyer advertisement of the co-curricular program “is to give MSU students a value added to their degree by cultivating and enhancing these competencies, which employers have indicated are important in a variety of career fields.”

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The “Student Expectations” document of the program lists the National Association of Colleges & Employers “Defining Career Readiness” page.

”The career readiness of college graduates is an important issue in higher education, in the labor market, and in the public arena. Yet, up until now, ‘career readiness’ has been undefined, making it difficult for leaders in higher education, workforce development, and public policy to work together effectively to ensure the career readiness of today’s graduates,” the document states. 

”The National Association of Colleges and Employers, through a task force of college career services and HR/staffing professionals, has developed a definition, based on extensive research among employers, and identified seven competencies associated with career readiness,” it adds. 

NACE includes seven competencies associated with career readiness, one of which is “Global/Intercultural Fluency.”

In this MSU pilot test, students will earn their badges and eventual certificate through the guidance of their mentor, monthly group meetings, engagement in campus such as “attending campus events put on by...College Republicans and Democrats,” “turning in artifacts to the MSU Co-Curricular Record,” and individual reflection. 

To obtain the badges, students will demonstrate learning in a competency area. The eventual certificate will be earned through “digital badging” and will be signed by the senior advisor to the president for diversity, president, and provost. 

MSU did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for further comment in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SergeiKelley