As part of Texas Tech University’s accreditation, the university has implemented a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)—Bear Our Banners Far and Wide: Communicating in a Global Society. The Center for Global Communication develops and advances educational programming and resources that enhance communication as well as multicultural skills for students to effectively converse in a global context. Texas Tech fully appreciates that in the current knowledge-based economy, students confront an ever-expanding array of information that they must learn to navigate effectively. Information literacy requires students to locate, critically examine, evaluate, interpret, synthesize, prioritize, and apply information. Successful students in such an information-rich society will have the ability to survey a wide range of sources outside their current purview, decide what is important and worth assimilating, and integrate such information into a coherent whole in a way that makes sense to oneself and to others. Such higher-order cognitive training cultivates a disposition for continuous learning, interpersonal and intercultural engagement, and self-assurance. To ensure that students are prepared to become “ethical leaders for a diverse and globally competitive workplace,” two specific areas of undergraduate education are specifically targeted: a three-hour Multicultural course and a Communication Literacy requirement.
Multicultural Course Requirement
Students graduating from Texas Tech University should be able to demonstrate awareness and knowledge of distinctive cultures or subcultures, including, but not limited to, ethnicity, race, gender, class, political systems, religions, sexual orientation, languages, or human geography. The multicultural core course focuses on inter-cultural awareness that includes several components: [i] developing a student’s ability to discern that people are not all the same, [ii] appreciate that cultures vary in values, behaviors, and expectations, and [iii] that cultural differences are important to recognize/understand in dealing with others. Course content developed by individual faculty is required to develop a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts. Learning outcomes include: [i] students will demonstrate intercultural awareness, knowledge, and skills in written, verbal, and behavioral activities (e.g., service-learning, co-curricular and similar experiences); [ii] students will exhibit the ability to engage constructively with individuals and groups across diverse social contexts; and [iii] students will appraise privileged relationships at different levels (e.g., interpersonal, local, regional, national, and international) and explain how these relationships affect the socioeconomic and cultural status of individuals and groups.
There are over fifty Multicultural courses students can choose from at Texas Tech, including “Introduction to Agricultural Education,” “World Dance Forms,” and “World of Egypt and the Near East.” These courses are dispersed throughout the curriculum as well as taught through Texas Tech University Online. Students can also fulfill the requirement by completing the approved Study Abroad Program, with assessments by the TTU Study Abroad Office.
To be effective leaders, workers, and citizens—in the arts, government, health care, industry, or education—college graduates must possess the ability to communicate effectively. That is, they must possess communication literacy. Such communication adopts a broad perspective, is concerned not only with message production (i.e., form and content) but also with the thoughtful selection of the most appropriate medium for communicating a message to best promote its effective reception. To that end, the term “communication” does not suggest a single or preferred medium but encompasses any medium through which a message is transmitted and/or received. Above all, communication literacy is about competence and proficiency; the attainment of both entails fostering a critical understanding of how communication functions in different contexts, appreciating its uniquely transactional nature, adapting messages to situations and audiences, and communicating in ways that are ethically and socially responsible in a diverse global society. The Communication Literacy requirement gives faculty the flexibility to emphasize different modes of communication that may be important to a discipline. For example, the ability to communicate orally face-to-face with clients or patients may be a vital skill for students in health or counseling professions, while business majors may need to learn the writing, organizational, and public speaking skills necessary for strong and effective oral presentations.
Teaching Without Borders Faculty Development
To ensure that all undergraduates are exposed to global perspectives regardless of their study focus, an annual workshop series Teaching Without Borders provides training for tenure-track faculty, professors of practice, and instructors in course internationalization. The program integrates global and intercultural competence with course content in a peer-mentoring format to build and connect a community of faculty who understand that the future’s complex challenges require collaboration beyond geographical borders and explore how to bring such challenges into focus in the classroom.
The Texas Tech University QEP Bear Our Banners Far and Wide: Communicating in a Global Society addresses the need for students to be learners for a diverse and globally competitive workforce. It marks a profound set of opportunities for students, as well as chances for institutional change, and ensures that the mission of the university is strengthened by the work of faculty and students alike.