Honors College Launches Cross-Cultural Competency Course

Me, You, and We

The Cross-Cultural Competency Course (CCC) was born out of student advocacy with a goal of advancing respect, inclusion, and belonging of the Honors College community, a unique and intimate interdisciplinary living-learning experience with a mission focused on social impact and inclusive excellence.

As our world becomes more diverse, those who rise will be those embodying the skills of:

Empathy ◊ Understanding ◊ Critical Thinking ◊ Respect ◊ Collaboration

The Honors College prepares students for their next chapter by providing them with the opportunity to hone these skills in the CCC.

"Under the guidance of Dr. Patricia O'Brien-Richardson, the Cross-Cultural Competency Course presents an engaging and innovative experience that embodies the Honors College's commitment to creating a beloved community by emphasizing empathy and understanding across differences so that all can thrive,"

said Paul Gilmore, Dean of the Honors College.

Built on student activism, the Cross-Cultural Competency Course is an opportunity for students to tap into their own advocacy and focus on changing issues affecting their lives.

"Our students have had a front-row seat watching as our country wrestles with the injustices of our past and the inequities of our present," said Dr. O'Brien-Richardson, Director of the Cross-Cultural Competency Course.

"They want and deserve a better future, one that is filled with respect for one another; an understanding of each other's history, religion, and culture; and an awareness of each person's unique lived experiences. For me, creating this course is also an expression of my commitment to inclusive excellence."

In the course, students unpack issues they see in our world such as racism and inequality, evaluate their role in knocking down barriers to belonging as allies and co-conspirators, engage with peers collaboratively to advance respect, inclusion, and a sense of belonging in a culminating project focused on Advancing True Inclusion, with the idea of implementing their projects at the Honors College and at Rutgers at large.

We may not know what the future will bring, but our students will be armed with the skills, understanding, and mindsets to advance it. 


Spring Semester 2022 Course Enrollment

The Cross-Cultural Competency Course will be enrolling interested students for the Spring Semester 2022.

◊  Course Code: 01:090:230, Sections H1-H6 | All sections meet in the Honors College

◊  Meeting times: Mon 5:40pm, Tue 12:10pm, Wed 5:40pm; Thur 2:00 & 5:40pm; Fri 12:10pm

◊  10-weeks, 1 credit

Beginning Fall 2022, the Cross-Cultural Competency Course will become a requirement for all incoming Honors College students.


Advancing True Inclusion Projects

Below are a few of the many Advancing True Inclusion Projects created by student teams this fall as part of the Cross-Cultural Competency Course; projects were created with a focus on implementation at the Honors College and Rutgers at large.

◊ Halal Options at Rutgers ◊ 

This project challenges Rutgers University Dining to provide transparent Halal options at Brower Commons so that Muslim students on campus have a space where they can get the food needed in order to eat according to their religion and culture.

Student Team Members:

  • Hadia Dutt
  • Tanishq Jagoori
  • Kamil Szczech

◊ Disordered Eating in Honors College ◊ 

This project helps to shed light on how disordered eating affects people living all around us. Through a two-part series podcast, these students will have conversations about the spectrum of disordered eating in order to illuminate and hopefully help others overcome disordered eating habits.

Student Team Members:

  • Hannah Arbeitel
  • Neli Elhadad 
  • Krishma Kapoor

◊ Health and Hygiene Help at the HC ◊ 

This project focuses on the accessibility of period products in the bathrooms at the HC. Menstruation is unavoidable as a biological process for many students here. With bathroom equality for all at the forefront, the goal is to provide anyone who menstruates access to necessary products and a space of no judgment.

Student Team Members: 

  • Ryan Davis 
  • Varshini Gopalakrishnan 
  • Gabe Farabaugh 
  • Maya Stokley 

◊ RU Aware of Your Words ◊ 

This project proposes an educational Instagram social media campaign to show people the history of words and why words matter. The campaign would involve creating graphic design flyers with QR codes for posting and would ask for feedback from followers to evolve our collective learning.

Student Team Members:

  • Kaitlyn Adkins
  • Arianna Entero
  • Nadine Odeh
  • Victoria Richard

◊ Awareness Bulletin Board Calendar ◊  

This project involves creating a calendar to display holidays, awareness weeks, religious observances, and monthly observances throughout the year, helping to raise awareness for observances during each month.

Student Team Members:

  • Bennett Allen 
  • Nubia Finklin 
  • Naomi Morfe 
  • Abass Rahim 

◊ Are You Culturally Competent? ◊ 

This project focuses on understanding students' level of Cultural Competency by surveying them. The project also highlights social justice and music and their key takeaways from the Cross-Cultural Competency Course. 

Student Team Members:

  • Keri Iwasko 
  • Gianna Mignano 
  • Liam O'Neill 
  • Amber Thane 

◊ Disability Awareness and Inclusivity ◊ 

This project highlights ways in which the Honors College and greater Rutgers community can rehab and create facilities that promote a greater sense of belonging for students with disabilities.

Student Team Members:  

  • Emilia Dul
  • Amanda Salemi

◊ Native American Awareness ◊ 

This project walks us through the challenging history for Native American people in our country and proposes ideas for a more inclusive Native American culture in our community with a special focus on Women's Rights within the Native American communities.

Student Team Members:  

  • Ethan Divine
  • Ben Evans

Darnell Thompson
“Being able to engage with these high-achieving students on social issues, challenge their perspectives, learn from their experiences in order to cultivate their activism has been a highlight of my career.”
~ Darnell Thompson, CCC Instructor


Emily Sullivan

“Teaching the Cross-Cultural Competency course allowed me to meaningfully engage with topics I would not normally see in the academic setting as a STEM student. It gave me the opportunity to delve into social justice topics that I am passionate about while connecting with Honors College freshmen, forming bonds with the next class of Changemakers.”
~ Emily Sullivan, CCC Student Learning Assistant


Corina Hernandez

“I feel incredibly lucky to have started this journey with True Inclusion’s robust vision which was generated from a deep passion for change. Facilitating and learning alongside the Honors College students solidifies my passion for educating for social justice.”
~ Corina Hernandez, CCC Instructor


Justin Najimian

“It was a privilege to assist in educating the new entrants of the Honors College…and help guide them on their path to becoming more conscious of the things that they can do in everyday life to demonstrate cultural humility.”
~ Justin Najimian, CCC Student Learning Assistant


Anthony Jones

“My experience teaching the Cross-Cultural Competency Course was truly impactful personally as I was able to challenge myself through the various readings and questions that students had. As an African-American male, it was significant that I was able to teach a course at Rutgers (I never had an African-American Male teacher during my time at Rutgers).”
~ Anthony Jones, CCC Instructor


Justin Kelley

"Teaching this course has been liberating and makes me hopeful for the future of the HC and the greater Rutgers community. It's been nothing short of a melting pot full of love and learning and I'm proud to be in the room with such inspiring students and leaders at the HC."
~ Justin Kelley, CCC Instructor


Peri Burton

"It was refreshing and inspiring to hear the open mindedness expressed by the students in the Cultural Competency course. Additionally, the course’s conversations about identity and culture always provided me with valuable new perspectives."
~ Peri Burton, CCC Student Learning Assistant