Department of Nutrition

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Cultural Competence

Cultural competence can be defined as a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system/agency, or among individuals that enables that system/agency or individuals to work effectively in a cross-cultural situation (Cross, 1989). The Department of Nutrition is committed to promoting its own organizational cultural competence and that of its students, alumni, faculty, and staff at the individual level. This commitment is consistent with the University’s Ready for the World International and Intercultural Awareness Initiative to transform the campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.

Therefore, in 2004-05 the Department engaged in assessment of its organizational cultural competence as a foundation for future planning. Its Public Health Nutrition program provided leadership to develop a model for this assessment. The model is described in the Manual for Self Assessment of Cultural Competence of an Academic Department or Unit. Using this manual, the Public Health Nutrition Program worked with faculty, staff and students to complete the assessment.

In addition, the Public Health Nutrition Program developed two programs to promote cultural competence of health professionals. The first, Meaningful Exchange: Enhancing Cultural Competence of Public Health Personnel, was designed to promote the cultural competence of public health professionals who work with the maternal and child population. This continuing education program reached over 1,400 public health personnel in 2006. The Cultural Competence Express is an on-campus program targeted to undergraduate students in the health-related disciplines. It was implemented Fall 2006 in collaboration with departments and programs across campus. For more information on these programs, please contact the Public Health Nutrition Program.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number T79MC09805, Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Health Nutrition, $223,929, 50% funded by the University of Tennessee, Department of Nutrition. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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