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Building Cultural Competence
Hosted by U.S. EPA, Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch
Community Involvement University (CIU)

What is the course overview?
Culture-based dynamics can be especially noticeable when presenting highly technical information to communities concerned about environmental impacts. Building Cultural Competence (BCC) is a highly interactive awareness- and skills-building workshop. Participants experience a refreshing new way to look at, talk about and manage diversity both within EPA site teams and with communities. Untethered from traditional methods of addressing these dynamics, participants are free to explore new avenues for functional relationship building and collaborative problem-solving even in the presence of deep mistrust and striking interpersonal difference. Core concepts include taking personal responsibility for the quality of one’s work life and generating positive field results based on enlightened self-interest. BCC can help create a more productive, satisfying experience for all staff teams and for the communities they serve.

Who should take this course?
This course is recommended for both new and seasoned Community Involvement Coordinators (CICs) as well as public involvement and technical staff. There are no prerequisites for this course.

What are the course learning objectives?
Participants who complete this course will gain increased awareness and comfort with:

  • The ways that personal orientation can unconsciously influence perceptions, assumptions, performance and patterned behavior when interacting with others.
  • The natural formation of stereotypes among and between groups of people and the ways those stereotypes can work to lower expectations for success by pre-limiting the range of possible outcomes of interactions between staff and with communities.
  • A simple, intuitive model for circumventing the naturally occurring interpersonal pitfalls and landmines that can exist in a workplace and community engagement setting.

Participants who complete this course will learn and practice skills that will help them:

  • Recognize and break the "Vicious Cycle" - interlocking sets of stereotypes that occur within multifunctional and multicultural work teams.
  • Become more comfortable and effective in high risk / low trust communication environments by understanding the natural causes of misperceptions and not taking them personally.
  • Develop relationships with co-workers and community members that build trust and aid in the dissemination and understanding of technical information.

What are the logistics?
This course is offered as a one-day, interactive workshop. Regions can customize the course to their intended staff and needs by conducting a scoping call with the facilitators about four weeks before the training. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and be prepared for frank discussions in small and large group sessions. Michael J. Lythcott, a Senior Associate at Skeo Solutions with over 35 years of management and technical expertise, teaches this course with to 1-2 junior facilitators. Mr. Lythcott has provided community and stakeholder analysis, facilitation, conflict resolution, training, and communications services for private industry, government agencies, and grassroots community organizations, both domestically and abroad. Recommended course size is 12-30 participants.

Is there available background material?
Participants receive presentation copies and handouts on key skills/takeaways.

For general information contact Tina Conley by telephone at 703-603-0696 or via e-mail at

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