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This interdisciplinary guide is intended to serve as a portal to library and online resources related to diversity and cultural competency.
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ACC: Faces of Our Mission

Dr. Susan Warner Thomason, Director, Instructional Development Services, produced this video for an Austin Community College faculty workshop.  We are including it here because it celebrates not only the diversity of the students at ACC, but also of the diversity of courses and programs the College offers to match interest, talent, and potential with achievement.

Diversity and Austin Community College

What Is Diversity?

Diversity, simply stated, is difference--the characteristics and experiences that make us uniquely who we are.  We promote the understanding of diversity as a celebration of differences and identification of similarities.  Fred Rogers (1928–2003), children's television producer and star of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," is quoted often on this topic:

"As different as we are from one another, as unique as each one of us is, we are much more the same than we are different. That may be the most essential message of all...." (Fred Rogers Company)

“What's been important in my understanding of myself and others is the fact that each one of us is so much more than any one thing. A sick child is much more than his or her sickness. …. A pediatrician is more than a medical doctor. You're MUCH more than your job description or your age or your income or your output.” (Quotes, Goodreads)

"In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction. For it is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."  ~Audre Lorde



    “The ideology of including people of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds in an organization's workforce, faculty, student body, or customer base.  ‘Multiculturalism as an ideal has been regarded both as the entitlement of cultural groups and as a form of civil rights grounded in human dignity and the equality of cultures. It is seen as a move toward interculturalism, the beneficial exchange where cultures learn about each other (Anderson & Collins, 2007). Cultural diversity is an essential component of multiculturalism, leading to a broader representation of perspectives, worldviews, lifestyles, language, and communication skills. Acknowledging diversity suggests that subordinate groups are not necessarily required to give up their identity or assimilate to dominate norms (Lum, 2004; Weaver, 2005). For dominant groups, this may mean that new ways of relating to those of different cultures need to be acquired.’” 

    Lee, E., & McRoy, R. (2008). Multiculturalism. In Encyclopedia of Social Work. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 Feb. 2014.

    As a descriptive term, multiculturalism refers to the coexistence of people with many cultural identities in a common state, society, or community. As a prescriptive term, it is associated with the belief that racial, ethnic, and other groups should maintain their distinctive cultures within society yet live together with mutual tolerance and respect. Advocates of multiculturalism often propose going beyond traditional liberal principles of tolerance for members of other groups toward acknowledgment of their positive value.

    The development of multiculturalism as an intellectual theme and social movement has been most prominent in the United States—although it has spread rapidly to other countries. Debates over the content of education in the 1970s and 1980s were pivotal in this process. These centered primarily around multiculturalist arguments for expanding the curricula to include the history and work of marginalized groups (e.g., African Americans, Native Americans, women, immigrants—and later Hispanics, Asians, gays, lesbians, and other minorities). They also urged enlarging the canon of “great works” to include texts originating outside the Western tradition.  (2002).” 

    Calhoun, C. (Ed.). (2002). Dictionary of the Social Sciences. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2014.



    "In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction. For it is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

    ― Audre Lorde, Our Dead Behind Us: Poems


    What is Cultural Competence/Competency?

    "Cultural competence refers to the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each."

    --Indicators for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice. National Association of Social Workers. 2007  p. 12-13.

    Cultural competency is "the capacity to function effectively in cultural settings other than one's own.  This will usually involve a recognition of the diversity both between and within cultures, a capacity for cultural self-assessment, and a willingness to adapt personal behaviors and practices."

    --APA Dictionary of Psychology.  American Psychological Association. REF BF31 .A63 2007  p. 249.

    Cultural competency goes beyond diversity, enabling us to communicate our appreciation and respect for our differences in order to teach, assist, care for, and work with one another.



    “Even-handed treatment. Equity requires that relevantly similar cases be treated in similar ways. For example, two persons doing the same job in the same way with similar results for the same employer would expect the same pay. Again, it would be inequitable if two individuals committed the same crime in similar circumstances, but received quite different sentences. Equity is therefore closely connected to equality, and to the rule of law. Controversy arises from the delineation of relevant similarity: the notions of equity and precedent both raise this problem.”  

    (2009). Equity. In The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2014.



    A term used to describe and promote policies, strategies, and practices which aim to enable all learners to participate fully in education. As widely conceived, inclusion is closely connected with social justice concerns for equality and rights for all. In this conception it often refers to social inclusion, which is concerned with reducing inequalities between the relatively disadvantaged sectors of society and the relatively advantaged. In this sense it may refer to race, gender, social class, disability, learning difficulties, religious belief, or some other category or group.

    (2009). Inclusion. In A Dictionary of Education. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2014.

    Inclusivity, as a strategy to make the most of diversity, decenters the privilege of one group over others and helps eliminate marginality.


    Vega, Tanzina. "Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions’." New York Times.  21 Mar. 2014.

    The term "microaggressions" (first used by Dr. Chester M. Pierce, a professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard University, in the 1970s) describes "the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture."

    The Microaggressions Project, founded in 2010, and its blog "seeks to provide a visual representation of the everyday of 'microaggressions.'" Events, observations and experiences have been posted by people from around the world and, according to the New York Times article "the site has had 2.5 million page views from 40 countries."


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