Student ambassadors for cultural competence

"A living Method" by Professor Juanita Sherwood
"A living Method" by Professor Juanita Sherwood

In 2015, the theme of the Sydney Teaching Colloquium was ‘cultural competence is everyone’s business’.  The university community met on 4th November to explore the issues, challenges and success stories around embedding cultural competence in pedagogy and curriculum. Take a look at the short highlights video below.

Six undergraduate student ambassadors were involved in the Colloquium: Longen Lan (Advanced Science/Law), Rosie Menzies (Advanced Science), Suji Jeong (Commerce/Arts), Tracy Trieu (Commerce / Liberal Studies), and Ann Wen (Arts /Law).  These students worked with Tai Peseta and Amani Bell in, what was then called the Institute for Teaching and Learning (now Educational Innovation). This student and staff partnership worked to:

  • provide their knowledge, experience and understanding about the demands of being a student to the Colloquium planning processes
  • develop resources that engage the wider student and university community
  • participate in panels and group discussions at the Colloquium
  • collect, analyse and present data at various stages of the Colloquium process
  • participate in a research project about the Ambassador scheme

#sydteach15 congratulation all fantastic day – my highlight student ambassadors they made an old man think afresh – simple and powerful – student presentation so clear honest and powerful cultural competence is essential in a quality uni experience & education – Professor Shane Houston (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services)

A highlight of the Colloquium was the students’ ‘walk the line’ presentation, which can be seen here.

The students have shared their reflections about their experiences in a soon to be published article for the journal Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education.

The success of this initiative led to a project in 2016 where six students worked in collaboration with five unit coordinators to improve student learning about cultural competence in five units of study, including geology and project management.

L to R: Tracy Trieu, Stephanie Barahona, Ann Wen, Dr. Tim Soutphommasane (Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner), Suji Jeong, Rosie Menzies and Longen Lan

Main image: ‘A living method’ by Professor Juanita Sherwood was chosen as the image for the 2015 Sydney Teaching Colloquium because it reminds us that to be collaborative cultural learners, we need to reflect on the many influences that shape our journeys. Circles are used within Indigenous cultures to illustrate the holistic nature of ways of knowing and being. The spiral indicates that the system is not closed or static, highlighting the ongoing processes of learning and co-generating knowledge.

Get involved

To find out more about current projects, you can join the student partnerships Special Interest Group:
You are also welcome to contact Amani Bell ([email protected]) for further discussion.
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