Faculty Engage Globally to Promote Intercultural Competency: India Faculty Exchange Program

Written by Lindsey Donohue, CAS communications Intern

Indo Project Visitors

As the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, “it is critical to train mental health professionals who are attuned to the unique cultural needs of diverse individuals” notes Associate Professor Dr. Vaishali Raval.  To address these issues in graduate student training and support the intercultural competence of faculty in the department, Dr. Raval developed a proposal in partnership with Christ University in Bangalore, India that was funded by the Indo-US 21st Century Knowledge Initiative of the United States-India Education Foundation. According to the Initiative website “The initiative aims to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education. Each project can be utilized over a three-year period, with the aim of encouraging mutual understanding, educational reform, and economic growth, as well as the development of junior faculty at Indian and American institutions of higher learning”

Miami University is one of the four institutions in the United States to receive a $190,000 grant from the Indo-US Initiative. The grant itself is a training model for culturally competent evidence- based mental health care for diverse societies. The project is planned to be three years and consists of the following:

  • Assess training needs of students, faculty and community practitioners.
  • Assess needs of patients experiencing mental health difficulties and of their families for culturally sensitive care.
  • Develop a training model for postgraduate curriculum at both institutions.
  • Promote development opportunities for junior and senior faculty at both universities through exchange visits, workshops and peer-mentoring groups.
  • Promote professional development for current mental health practitioners “on the ground” through on-site and online certificate programs.
  • Develop a resource center that provides e-content and consultation to other postgraduate training programs.

The first phase of the grant involved a trip in January 2016 by Dr. Raval and Miami University professors Dr. Aaron Luebbe and Dr. Cameron Hay to Christ University in Bangalore. When visiting India, the faculty delivered guest lectures and conducted focus groups, where they learned from students, faculty, and mental health practitioners about the graduate level training. The feedback they get from the needs assessment will allow them to make any changes necessary to the graduate curriculum. Faculty peer groups were also formed during the exchange program and the groups will work on collaborative research, or on planning curricula with faculty from Christ University in Bangalore. The second phase of the program consisted of a visit by four Christ University faculty to Miami University in April, 2016,

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The project mainly focuses on graduate level education in mental health, but Dr. Raval, the project director, says they hope it will benefit undergraduate students at Miami. They are hoping the faculty exchange visits will be beneficial to undergraduate students in the form of guest lecturers. They are considering using video conferencing to allow Miami undergraduate students to have more interactivity with students at Christ University.

For more information, see the grant page on the Department website:

http://miamioh.edu/cas/academics/departments/psychology/research/clinical/indo-us-project/index.html

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