Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences offers Expertise to Empower First Responders

Graham Brooks | Communications Editor

The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University and the Interaction Advisory Group, LLC (IAG) recently collaborated to build a stronger training curriculum for law enforcement aimed at improving disabilities awareness.

At its core, IAG believes true inclusion and acceptance for all individuals with special needs is integral for our future. IAG provides customized training for first responders, public service officials and private sector workers including teachers and hospitality professionals.

While attending a conference earlier this year, Director of Global Education in the College of Human Sciences Dr. Kate Thornton introduced Cultural Intelligence training to Dustin Chandler, IAG co-founder and noted disability advocate, suggesting it could further develop his existing training.

“We teach Cultural Intelligence (CQ) and it is a core learning outcome of the Global Studies Human Science major at Auburn University,” Thornton said. “Cultural Intelligence increases a person’s capability to adapt while interacting with others from different cultural regions. In our classrooms, it has opened the door for discussions revolving around culture and growth and most importantly allows for students to self-reflect which helps gain critical thinking skills.”

Dr. Abbi-Storm McCann, a lecturer at the time in the Office of Global Education, worked with Chandler to accomplish a curriculum redesign.

“Our office saw the importance of the IAG mission and set out to help,” McCann said. “With this new curriculum, there is an aspect of assessment built in that further supports IAG’s goal in making sure the trainees are retaining information. This involves a teaching strategy that moves away from traditional lecture style and toward a more participant focused class. As a past law enforcement officer, Dustin is able to connect to participants in a way that is unique and meaningful, while really giving a voice to the developmental disabilities community and creating a bridge between the two.”

Chandler noted that considering one in five people live with a disability, the longer someone is involved in law enforcement and public safety, the more likely they will cross paths.

“The main goal of our collaboration was to have an outside party review our material to ensure the curriculum we teach is actually being learned and being retained,” Chandler said. “We are confident implementing this redesign will benefit the learner and help ensure they have the safest interactions possible with the community they serve.”

For more information on the Office of Global Education at Auburn University, visit