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CultuRACE: Navigating the Path to Cultural Competence

13 November 2023

CultuRACE: Navigating the Path to Cultural Competence

At Newcastle University, we recognise that fostering cultural competence of Speech and Language Therapy students is of paramount importance. Recently, we embarked on an exciting journey with our students through the first sessions of ‘CultuRACE’. an innovative new programme of sessions designed by lecturers and Speech & Language Therapists Linda Jose and Helen Stringer to enhance cultural competence and address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

Stage one students across our master's and undergraduate programmes took part in CultuRACE Below is a brief outline of the topics that they explored.  


Part 1: Cultural Awareness and Diversity Exploration 

Understanding Culture: This session  introduced students to the profound concept of culture. We delved into the idea of cultural identity, asking students to explore their own backgrounds and how these identities shape their perspectives. It quickly became evident that understanding one's cultural identity is fundamental to recognising and respecting the identities of others. 

Cultural Competence Basics:  Students learned that cultural competence goes beyond mere knowledge; it encompasses attitudes and skills that enable effective cross-cultural interactions. This session introduced students to a model of cultural competence and emphasised the importance of empathy, humility, and the ability to navigate cultural differences with sensitivity. 


Part 2: Unconscious Bias, Racial Privilege, and Allyship 

Unconscious Bias Awareness: Here we confronted the concept of unconscious bias. Our students discovered how biases, often deeply ingrained and unnoticed, can impact perceptions and behaviours.  

Recognising Racial Privilege: Building on their journey, students delved into the concept of white privilege. This session encouraged students to critically examine their own privileges and reflect on how these privileges can affect their interactions with marginalised communities. It was a pivotal moment when students took part in the privilege checklist activity and began to understand their own privilege and role in promoting equity and combating systemic inequalities. 

Becoming an Ally: The journey culminated in focusing on the vital role of allies. Students explored the concept of allyship. They gained insights into how to support marginalised colleagues and peers, and how to begin becoming agents of change and advocates for a more inclusive society. 


Student feedback 

The feedback we received from our enthusiastic students was invaluable. Their reflections demonstrated their engagement and newfound understanding. Students praised the experiential nature of CultuRACE and the sensitivity in which it was delivered. They also expressed increased self-awareness, recognising the importance of cultural competence in their profession and in life! Students gave an average satisfaction rating of 4.45 out of a possible 5 further demonstrating the success of the first part of the CultuRACE journey.  


Future plans 

 We have just launched our new CultuRACE online Canvas community, where we can continue to explore issues and topics relevant to CultuRACE and cultural competence further by directing students to other resources and encouraging further discussion.  

As we continue this journey, we look forward to the upcoming sessions that will take place in later stages of the student’s programmes of study, where we will delve into issues with health inequalities, systemic racism and colonialism within healthcare practice and institutions. Through CultuRACE, we aim not only to equip our students with cultural competence but also to inspire them to be change-makers in the field of Speech and Language Therapy. 

Watch this space for updates on our CultuRACE journey, as we explore these vital topics and continue to empower our students to make a difference.