University of Notre Dame

Cultural Competence

In your first year, your advisor will talk with you about how you might use Notre Dame resources to develop a 21st century mindset and set of skills called cultural competence.

What is cultural competence?

Cultural competence is the ability to work and interact effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. It includes an understanding of how culture shapes human experience and the capacity to engage with local, national, and transnational realities created by differences in ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, age, class, and gender.

In a society that is increasingly multicultural, multiethnic, and multilingual, cultural competence has become crucial to interpersonal communication and professional success. Whether you intend to pursue a career in business, health, politics, science, law, communication and media, education, or any other profession, cultural competence is an essential part of your future.

What skills should I acquire to become “culturally competent”?

Some of the basic skills associated with cultural competence include:

1. Understanding how your own and other people’s cultures impact values, beliefs, norms, and world-views

2. Being comfortable with, and even enjoying, coming into contact with new ideas, norms, and perspectives

3. Assessing and integrating new perspectives and new experiences

The ePortfolio cultural competence resources page highlights some of the departments, institutes, and courses that can help you begin to build these skills.

As you choose your clubs and activities, consider options that can help you become more culturally competent. Start by visiting the website of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services and the Cultural Clubs listing from the Student Activities Office.