Moving Beyond “One-and-Done” Training: A Case Study

Oct 11, 2022
Aerial view of the University of Utah

Back in May, I wrote about Drake University’s efforts to build intercultural competence among the faculty so they can better help students become global citizens. Many of you said you appreciated these real-life case studies of what other institutions are doing to achieve their intercultural goals.

So this month I’m sharing another case study—this one from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah—looking at how the school’s EDI committee solicited feedback about the trainings they’d been offering, identified gaps, and then offered professional development aimed at meeting the specific needs of their faculty and staff.

Background & Goals

The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah strives to be an inclusive place for all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community, and recognizes that this requires a significant, long-term commitment. In pursuit of this goal, Eccles is guided by two overarching EDI (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) commitments:  Ensuring Equitable Systems and Fostering an Inclusive Environment.1

The Eccles EDI Engagement Committee has offered a variety of relevant training and development opportunities for faculty and staff. Feedback from these trainings indicated that participants often experienced the sessions as (1) one-and-done, with little to no follow-up on their learning, opportunity to build community, or to recurringly engage, and (2) disconnected from their day-to-day, making it difficult to apply what they’d learned.

Based on this feedback, the committee began looking for professional development opportunities that would offer more sustained engagement within a learning community rooted in the experiences of higher education faculty and staff.

The Eccles EDI Engagement Committee contacted True North Intercultural on the recommendation of Marcella Kirschbaum, former co-chair and then education coordinator for the committee, who had participated in True North Intercultural’s Facilitating Intercultural Learning program.

“I knew from previously learning from Tara that she would be able to offer a strong asynchronous online component, supplemented by real-time facilitation.”

- Marcella Kirschbaum
Career Services Manager & Executive Career Coach


The Program

The Navigating Cultural Differences facilitated private-cohort experience was an ideal option for these educators wanting deeper learning that involves community engagement and is directly applicable to their work. The program focuses on educators’ own intercultural development, and combines the flexibility of asynchronous online learning with small-group coaching sessions, taking a flipped classroom approach.

“Navigating Cultural Differences was the obvious choice in our case: it hit all our big needs, plus it was facilitated by an expert with whom one of our group’s leaders had previously had engaging and impactful learning experiences.”

- Austin Hendrickson
Associate Director of Student Services

Over the course of approximately two months, Eccles participants reviewed six asynchronous online learning modules. They met with their cohort and True North Intercultural facilitator, Tara Harvey, via Zoom at three different points during that time to discuss what they were learning and make connections to their own lives and work.

Kirschbaum says the large asynchronous component was helpful given that staff are spread across multiple time zones. Yet she knew the program would also be engaging, explaining, “I chose this based upon my experience with True North’s prior courses. I like that True North focuses on perspective shifting and experiential learning. It’s facilitated and reflective, as opposed to ‘lecture’ style.” In addition, Kirschbaum was familiar with and believes in the framework around which all True North Intercultural programming is designed.

Coordinators from the Eccles School shared information about the Navigating Cultural Differences training opportunity amongst the department, and easily recruited 22 interested educators, including but not limited to members of the EDI Engagement Committee. Participants spanned career services, undergraduate and MBA student services, academic administration, student affairs, and similar departments.

Austin Hendrickson, EDI Engagement Committee member who helped coordinate the training, explains, “We hoped that this opportunity would support the development of skills/capacity for navigating cultural differences, especially those in the EDI Committees, who we hope to develop as champions of equity, diversity, and inclusion within our community.”

Outcomes & Impact

Asked whether he felt the program achieved the learning objectives and addressed the feedback staff had provided about previous training efforts, Hendrickson responded enthusiastically, “I do!”

“The feedback I’ve heard included that NCD was more effective and educational than the variety of other trainings we'd hosted, that folks appreciated the application component and the learning community aspect, and that the flipped model was helpful for supporting folks’ processing of the content.”

- Austin Hendrickson
Associate Director of Student Services


Kirschbaum concurs, adding, “staff who attended found this approach accessible and the learning worthwhile.”

Hendrickson, who participated in the training himself, cited several aspects of the program that were particularly impactful for him. One was an exercise where participants crafted their own personal vision statement for navigating cultural differences.

“[That exercise] was powerful for me and many others; it can be so easy to participate in a training without any critical thought as to how it applies, so I appreciated the opportunity for everyone to think individually about how their learnings would apply to the approach they take in navigating cultural differences, and then get specific by writing it down and sharing!”

- Austin Hendrickson
Associate Director of Student Services



What are your take-aways from this case study? What have you learned that you could apply in your context? Please comment below!


1 Eccles Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Annual Report, 2020-2021

Photo credit: Parker Gibbons, Unsplash

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