Troy University’s Continuing Education and Outreach is presenting a training seminar on diversity and unconscious bias to all City of Dothan employees.
The classes began Thursday at the Dothan Civic Center after approval and funding from the Dothan City Commission.
“People’s past experiences, their values, their beliefs shape their thoughts,” said Laura Chambliss, Market Development Manager for Continuing Education and Outreach. “If you can make them aware of those, it helps head off anything that may come in the future. Originally this course was aimed at law enforcement, but when the City of Dothan looked at the material, they said, ‘This is good for anybody.’ We’re training 1,000 people over a period of a few weeks.”
Michael Jackson, a retired Marine and 30-year Department of Corrections employee, is leading the sessions for TROY.
“We’re trying to get them to see diversity is more than race and gender, it has to do with thought diversity and diversity of approach,” Jackson said. “I’m hoping they walk away being more aware of being what we call culturally competent and understanding that just because a person is different doesn’t make them wrong. We have a tendency to categorize things that we don’t understand as being negative, but that’s not true.”
Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish originally had the idea for a diversity training session for his department, and TROY was a natural partner.
“This is a journey that started about three years ago when we were discussing the possibilities of doing some multicultural training at the police department, and we did some of that in house it was very successful, but it fell by the wayside over time,” Parrish said. “Once the COVID-19 crisis started, we’d already been talking with Troy University to do some sensitivity and diversity training on a larger scale. We’ve use Mr. Jackson as an instructor on some multigenerational instruction at the police department in the past that was very informative and useful. This is career development, something they can take with them in their careers and in their personal lives as well.”
Parrish said Dothan’s relationship with TROY continues to reap benefits.
“We used Troy University on a multigenerational training for the police department, which received rave reviews from the officers,” he said. “We have also worked with TROY on a previous communitywide survey. I’m very proud of the relationship we’ve forged with Troy University.”