Are You Culturally Intelligent?


University of Phoenix is progressing equity in education through a special series of public webinars featuring innovative speakers and thought leaders. In a webinar that took place in May, renowned educator Renee Bhatti-Klug, Ed.D., spoke to audience members about Cultural Intelligence (CI) and why it’s so important when it comes to furthering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) outcomes in learning institutions and beyond.

Are You Culturally Intelligent?

University of Phoenix’s Educational Equity Webinar Series is a program of educational events that shares thought-provoking conversations on DEI in the classroom, workplace and wider community. The series is open to the University’s faculty, staff, students and alumni as well as educators, employers, higher education leaders and administrators, DEI practitioners, nonprofit organizations and government affiliates everywhere.

On Thursday, May 19, Bhatti-Klug led a webinar in the series entitled “Are You Culturally Intelligent?” The University’s directors of Student Diversity and Inclusion at the Office of Educational Equity, Tondra Richardson, MBA, and Saray Lopez, MBA hosted the discussion.

The event’s learning outcomes were to help attendees better understand why building CI is an important step to achieving DEI outcomes and learn how to increase empathy, compassion and curiosity through interactive activities encouraging self-reflection. Bhatti-Klug explained how tapping into these three crucial values helps guide cultural awareness, cultural openness and cultural responsiveness.

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Creating Holistic Transformation

Bhatti-Klug is a respected speaker, innovative educational leader and researcher and the founder and chief trainer at Culturally Intelligent Training and Consulting (CITC). She has 20 years of experience educating students and training leaders from over 100 countries. Her work focuses on developing CI, creating curricula that prioritize people and fostering inclusive environments through data-driven decision making.

CITC promotes the incorporation of DEI outcomes in professional and educational organizations to inspire holistic transformation, citing that diversity allows contributors to feel represented, equity promotes systemic fairness and inclusion ensures that people feel valued and that they belong.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has recognized Bhatti-Klug’s dissertation research, in which she laid out her original CI framework and explored best practices for CI implementation to create systems of accountability, especially among university faculty.

After development and substantive testing, Bhatti-Klug has successfully taught this CI model to many academic, corporate and charitable organizations. Through CITC, she and her team have trained thousands, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to practice accountability and make real change through such tools as cultural audits and DEI committees.

Bhatti-Klug states that our instinctive human nature can cause many of us to unconsciously blame outsiders and judge external factors when a crisis arises to help us cope with fear. She believes that through building culturally intelligent systems and people and developing CI within ourselves, we can learn to operate from a place of love, rather than fear, and this brings its own freedom.

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Practicing Educational Equity

University of Phoenix takes an active approach to raising cultural awareness. Through several initiatives, it provides thought leadership and nurtures community alliances to promote sustainable educational equity and diversity. The University’s Office of Educational Equity champions the student experience and cultivates a sense of belonging by:

  • Fostering inclusive environments
  • Offering opportunities for professional development
  • Supporting systems to be culturally responsible in their practice and mindful of the needs of diverse students
  • Designing programs with resources to equip students for a diverse workforce.

In addition, the University supports DEI through the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, which develops and promotes strategies to value a diversity of experiences and cultures and fosters inclusive communities with the goal of creating a sense of belonging for all.

The Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research is home to faculty, students and alumni who are interested in furthering studies around DEI subjects. Finally, the University’s Career Institute addresses systemic barriers to career entry and advancement through research and building impactful partnerships.

About University of Phoenix

Since its founding in 1976, University of Phoenix has been furthering the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners and enhancing lives through higher education. The University offers numerous degree programs that correspond with hundreds of in-demand occupations, including those in cybersecurity, business and teaching.

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By integrating academic theory, lifelong learning and professional practice, adult learners develop relevant, up-to-date skills that they can easily apply to their work and help them progress in their careers. Convenient classes, available online or at selected campus locations and flexible start times mean that anyone can earn the degree they need.

Students can apply for help to fund their education from multiple scholarships and financial aid solutions. The University is currently expanding its $1 million scholarship commitment, which ensures that every new, qualifying student can secure up to $3,000 to put towards their learning.

For no additional charge, the University’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates provides the resources needed to be competitive in the workforce. These services include resume and interview support, career guidance and education and networking opportunities. To find out more, visit