History of Collaboration
The Grossmont–Cuyamaca Community College District (GCCCD) has historically had a strong commitment to diversity (which incorporates elements of internationalization) as articulated in board policies, the strategic plan, and mission statement, as well as the colleges' programmatic and instructional activities. The board policy states that the district “strives to provide an educational environment that fosters global awareness, mutual understanding, and respect that ultimately also benefits the global community.” However, prior to recent years, diversity and international initiatives were handled through disconnected, disparate committees that lacked any structure for communication and collaboration.
Catalyst for Advancing Collaborative Efforts
GCCCD recognized the need for a more centralized approach to diversity initiatives, in order to provide educational opportunities to better prepare students to work in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual society. GCCCD developed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) council (PDF) as a way to consolidate the many worthwhile efforts at both colleges and the district around diversity and international education. This more unified, comprehensive, and focused effort allowed the colleges and district to systematically approach diversity initiatives in a more collaborative manner.
Building from the existing structure and strategic direction of the DEI Council, the At Home in the World (AHITW) team worked to create a culture of inclusion and increase cultural competence. Diversity-related events have been held and continue to be scheduled at both campuses, including workshops on religious diversity, generational differences, creating safe spaces, and world cultures. Gender-neutral restrooms and contemplation rooms have been created since the inception of the DEI committees. GCCCD held focus groups at both colleges that helped the team to narrow down their ideas about what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean on the campuses and to further guide future initiatives.
The biggest impact of the AHITW project is that diversity is now in the consciousness of people in the district. When something related to diversity is happening on the campuses, everyone seems to know about it. In a recent presentation to the governing board, the board members were excited and the team received positive support with a request for regular updates on their initiatives.
Sustaining Efforts and Next Steps
GCCCD would like for future efforts to focus on embedding AHITW concepts into the curriculum. A subcommittee of the DEI Council is in the process of developing a global studies degree as well as a diversity requirement for graduation at both campuses.