Jan Hahn, Ph.D., is the coordinator of the Western Michigan University Center for Gerontology which is housed in the College of Health and Human Services. She also holds an appointment as assistant professor of speech pathology and audiology with teaching responsibilities in the interdisciplinary health services undergraduate program.
"In my recent work with community-based health professionals, I have learned to move away from emphasizing cultural competence to focusing on cultural sensitivity," Hahn says. "We can never be competent in another person's culture, since we all have unique experiences. However, we can increase our sensitivity through cultural education, avoiding assumptions, and respecting the views of others."
Dr. Doris Ravotas is the coordinator of the College of Health and Human Services' Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Services program. As a participant in the Everyone Counts Initiative, she is involved in a learning community that meets to discuss how people experience race from different perspectives. The group uses movies, articles and experience to examine issues like micro-aggressions, which involve non-physical, demeaning implications and other subtle insults.
"People of color are under-represented in health care and in the College of Health and Human Services," Ravotas says. "As a College we need to work together to make sure that we encourage these students to see their experiences as valuable in the health care environment and build a culture in which all students can succeed."
School of Social Work Professor Susan Weinger, Ph.D., attends Everyone Counts Initiative discussions on a monthly basis.
"It is important to me to dialogue with people about prejudice and discrimination and to reflect upon myself and the world I live in, as an effort to reduce oppression," Weinger says. "I joined this project because being multiculturally sensitive requires vigilance and lifelong learning."