An Opportunity for Personal & Professional Growth

Koupéla If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come. —Arapaho saying

Oftentimes we come across unexpected gems in our everyday lives. The Certificate of Graduate Study in Culturally Responsive Practices at the University of Southern Maine happens to be one such best-kept secret that ought to be discovered and explored. Administered through Multicultural Education Programs (home of the Newcomer ETEP Program), this creative graduate certificate design provides an opportunity for English Learner professionals to pursue additional coursework in higher education.

The Certificate of Graduate Study in Culturally Responsive Practices has been in place since September 2005. This certificate attracts students who are in the process of completing or have completed Master’s degrees and who wish to extend their studies in culturally responsive practices. This certificate is also intended to attract and benefit students who are contemplating graduate study but are unsure of the program best suited to their individual interests, needs, and goals.

The 12-credit post-baccalaureate Certificate of Graduate Study in Culturally Responsive Practices includes courses from academic programs across the university. The certificate is designed to allow students the opportunity to focus a four-course sequence on gaining a deeper understanding of the intersection between a working knowledge of the attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and values of people in diverse populations and culturally appropriate ways of responding to their needs. This certificate is intended for those already working in schools or in other human services institutions such as teachers, educational technicians, counselors, social workers, occupational therapists, health professionals, leaders in education, matriculated and non-matriculated graduate students.

Existing certificate courses are part of the School of Education & Human Development degree programs and other graduate programs across the university. These include degree programs in Literacy, Language & Culture, Education Leadership, Teacher Education, Counseling, Adult & Higher Education, Education Psychology & Exceptionality, American & New England Studies, Occupational Therapy, Leadership & Organizational Studies, Community Planning & Development, and Social Work.

Students must select from one of the current course offerings to ground their understandings in pedagogical practices. A detailed listing of course descriptions can be found at:

Course offerings include:
EDU 559: Aspects of Reading for Multilingual Learners (online)
EDU 562: Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom (online)
EDU 610: Professional Teacher in a Democratic Society
HCE 507: Spirituality and Religion in Counseling
HCE 612: Multicultural Counseling: Family & Disability Issues
HRD 545: Gender and Learning (online)
HRD 643: Multicultural Adult Development (online)
HRD 646: Global Perspectives in Adult Education & Practices
HRD 664: Culture, Tradition, and Diversity (blended)
HRD 699: Independent Study (for matriculated degree students only)
SED 540:  Nature and Needs of Learners who are Exceptional (blended)

American & New England Studies
ANE 638: Reading the Cultural Landscape
ANE 641: Environment and Culture

Leadership and Organizational Studies
LOS 661: Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Leadership
LOS 670: Leadership Study Abroad

Muskie School
CPD 602: Sustainable Communities

Occupational Therapy
OTH 507: Social Issues and Ethics in Occupational Therapy

Social Work
SWO 501: Multicultural Social Work
SWO 502: Critical Thinking about Human Behavior I
SWO 583: Social Work with Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The majority of students enrolled in the Certificate of Graduate Study in Culturally Responsive Practices program have also been part of a degree program. The program uses a blended delivery model, which gives students the benefits of face-to-face instruction with the flexibility of online learning. This certificate is especially suited for teachers who possess an ESL endorsement. Students who have previously taken courses listed above can transfer up to six credits and customize their coursework design. Matriculated students may elect to take an Independent Study course and work closely with their certificate adviser to design and develop work that exemplifies new learning and which is linked to the field of education. These finished products might very well become a proposal submitted for presentation at the annual Northern New England TESOL Conference. Examples of certificate students’ Independent Studies include projects undertaken by those in a number of graduate programs.  A sampling of these topics include:

  • ¨Many Perspectives, One School: The Immigrant and Refugee Experience in the Maine Public Education System
  • ¨ Kennedy Park ESL Collaborative
  • ¨ Teaching Reading for Standardized Tests to Non-Native English-Speaking Adults

The structure, inter-programmatic, and cross-university nature of this 12-credit certificate program provides the opportunity and flexibility for students to take courses in disciplines that may be new and exciting. The certificate is appealing and may be of great value for practical, professional, and personal reasons. The courses outlined in the program will help to further develop individual interests, expertise, and knowledge in rich and inviting educational pursuits. Please contact this office 207.780.5564 if you wish to learn more, or please check the website noted above for additional information and/or to find an application form.

–Linda Evans