Engaging with Diversity to Build Understanding: Promoting Interactions to Enhance Learning

By Jeannette Walsh and Ruth Gresham.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the pro-active approach taken by the University of Newcastle, Australia in promoting interactions and enhancing learning between Muslim students, staff of the University and members of the broader community.

In response to the initial project work that was begun in 2006, involving the production of three resources, faculties and schools within the University requested training to build their understanding of the needs of Muslim students in the academic environment in order to enhance the students’ learning experiences. The content of this training was documented into two resources.

Tailored orientation sessions were then developed and implemented for:

- Muslim students entering the Faculty of Health
- International Muslim students entering the University for the first time.

The purpose of both these sessions was to better equip students for the challenges they were likely to experience in social and academic environments. This paper will outline the project from the training of staff through to the feedback received from students who have participated in the orientation sessions.

Finally this paper will outline new projects and report on the interest now being shown by professionals from the broader community, including supervisors of international students undertaking placements in health related areas.

Keywords: Interaction, Engagement, Learning, Cultural Differences

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.261-272. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.202KB).

Jeannette Walsh

Statewide Educator, Education Centre Against Violence, ECAV, NSW Health, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Jeannette Walsh is currently employed by the Education Centre Against Violence (NSW Health) as a statewide educator focusing on cultural equity in training health staff who deliver services to people who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse and neglect. She was previously employed as the international Student Counsellor at the University of Newcastle for 4.5 years.

Ruth Gresham

Manager Community Relationships International, Academic and Global Relations Division, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Ruth Gresham is Manager Community Relationships International at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Ruth has piloted innovative community development projects since 1991 and for the past thirteen years has developed collaborative partnerships to deliver projects to enhance the experiences of international students. In 2009, Ruth Gresham and Jeannette Walsh were awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for ‘sustained leadership in promoting engagement with cultural differences in academic and social environments to enhance learning outcomes for Muslim students.’


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