Tuesday, September 20, 2022

University of Iowa faculty and staff now have access to a new voluntary training program that simulates real-life conversations around important issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Cultivating Inclusive Communities is an interactive, avatar-based training that uses virtual role-playing to explore different communication approaches and different perspectives. The goal is to provide people greater awareness and confidence in navigating and facilitating difficult conversations.

“Too often, we are focused more on making our own point rather than truly listening and trying to understand the perspective of the other person,” says President Barbara Wilson. “Our faculty and staff play a key role in building an inclusive environment and this training gives us an opportunity to improve our skills as listeners and facilitators.”

The training module is 30 to 40-minutes long and can be completed at the time that works best for the participant. You can sign up through My Training in Employee Self Service and completion of the program can be used to demonstrate proficiency in the universal competencies identified for job classifications and annual performance reviews.

Liz Tovar, executive officer and associate vice president for Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, says Cultivating Inclusive Communities is the result of a partnership with the Division of Student Life, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and University Human Resources.

 “We listened to the feedback from members of our campus community who asked to offer more educational opportunities,” says Tovar.  “By partnering across multiple departments and using an online platform, we are aligning this training with the new strategic plan to serve our faculty and staff.”

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During the spring and summer of 2022, more than 140 faculty and staff were given the opportunity to test the new Cultivating Inclusive Communities module. With a 72% response rate, the beta group gave favorable reviews, asking to make this training available to all UI faculty and staff.

What they are saying about “Cultivating Inclusive Communities”

“I enjoyed this training very much. It is very much based in reality and conversations we hear daily. For example, I like the specific examples for various scenarios.” Neda Barrett, Senior Human Resources Director and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Iowa College of Law

“I thought the “Cultivating Inclusive Communities” training program was great, there were many things that I learned from the information and from the interactive parts of the program.” Alexandra Nica, Associate Professor of Instruction, Tippie College of Business

“The “Cultivating Inclusive Communities” program is quite good. I especially like the conversation with Kacey. It was engaging and informative!” Sean Hesler, Director, Organizational Effectiveness Operations, University of Iowa Human Resources