Professional Skills for a Globalised World: Response from the developers

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Featured Image: Module Image taken from ‘Professional Skills for a Globalised World’

Elizabeth Black, Senior Lecturer of Informatics, Helen Coulshed, Lecturer of Chemistry, and Susan B. Martin, Senior Lecturer of War Studies, respond to criticism made by Roar comment writers about the “Professional Skills for A Globalised World” course they developed. 

We are the developers of the new online course “Professional Skills for a Globalised World”, which we launched at the start of this academic year (2019-20) and which is critiqued in the Roar article “Professional Skills for a Globalised World: Why is it problematic?” published on 11 November 2019.

We set out to develop this course in response to issues raised by students in all three of our departments. Each of us is passionate about providing an environment in which all of our students can thrive. While we have been sharing good practice between each of our departments for several years now, we wanted to be proactive in response to student demand for a training course that addresses some of the systemic issues present in most
working environments.

This course is one approach that we are piloting, and we are heartened to see that the course has encouraged such deep reflection and consideration by the authors of “Professional Skills for a Globalised World: Why is it problematic?”. We appreciate the, albeit indirect, feedback given in the article and strongly encourage any students who have ideas about how we might improve the way we do things to get in touch with us. We agree with the authors of “Professional Skills for a Globalised World: Why is it problematic?” that providing our students with the opportunity to discuss the issues would be of great benefit and we are looking at how we might support this in future; however, with more than 3600 students in our three departments, it isn’t feasible to engage everyone directly and we felt an online course was a way we could reach out to all of our students.

We also recognise that this module is only a first step, and hope that it encourages those who complete it to engage with the issues in other ways, including participating in the diversity and inclusion work that is on-going at King’s, taking further training, or starting conversations in other forums, as the Roar article we are responding to here has done.
We want to take this opportunity to correct some inaccuracies that appear in the article
“Professional Skills for a Globalised World: Why is it problematic?”.

“One will not find a single article in the module’s reading list that addresses counter-arguments or critiques of their provided studies.” – There is, in fact, a section in the reading list devoted to critical perspectives, which includes articles such as “The world is relying on a flawed psychological test to fight racism” and “How diversity training hurts”.
The authors claim that the course’s idea of diversity is “exclusively concerned with race and gender”.This is not true. We worked closely with a team of student advisors to develop a range of scenarios for inclusion in the course, to ensure that these scenarios are relevant to our student body. As well as examples concerned with race and gender, which our students tell us are significant issues for them, the course includes examples that focus on height, disability, faith, sexuality, economic background, attitudes to alcohol, and mental health.

Let us finish by reiterating that we are genuinely passionate about trying to improve our student environment.

The points raised in the Roar article “Professional Skills for a Globalised World: Why is
it problematic?” have given us food for thought on how we might improve the way we’re
approaching this. We hope that any students who have constructive feedback will contact us directly.

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