Multilingual social performance course flexes SMI’s professional development capabilities

5 November 2021

Researchers from The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) have developed and delivered a multilingual course on social performance for staff at mining operations across the Americas.

The Sustainable Strategies for Social Investment bespoke course was originally designed and delivered to BHP Minerals Australia, and focused on key concepts related to social investment, sustainability, and planning to build effective partnerships with local communities.

A combined team from SMI’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining and Transformational Learning led by Dr Kathryn Sturman were then asked by the BHP Global Communities, Social Investment and Human Rights team to redesign the course for Spanish and Portuguese-speaking participants across the Americas.

An example of the online course's multilingual functionality.

CSRM Research Manager Sarah Mackenzie said the unique knowledge and technical expertise within the two teams made it possible to provide BHP Minerals Americas with tailor-made, relevant material.

“When delivering a course to a cohort based in Australia you focus on the Australian context, and while there are similarities between different countries, and certain principles never change - there are many important differences in legislation, processes and procedures, cultures, histories and perceptions of mining,” she said.

“The Americas cohort we are delivering to spans seven countries and three languages.

“A lot of the concepts and processes addressed through the course are very complex, so it has been important to provide relevant, engaging content.

“Thankfully, the SMI staff involved in the project not only speak Spanish but, in many cases, have experience researching and working in the social performance space in Latin America and have strong local connections.

“For example, we were able to provide Spanish speaking attendees with case studies relevant to their context such as an interview in Spanish with a Peruvian Social Performance practitioner.

“The online Learning Management System we are using is easy to navigate and switching between languages is done by selecting the appropriate tab – so we are also giving a good user experience.

“Additionally, each of the course’s webinars have featured live Portuguese interpretation to better accommodate for the BHP teams operating in Brazil. 

Sustainable Strategies for Social Investment is one of a growing number of tailored courses delivered by SMI to meet training needs within individual organisations.

SMI Director Professor Neville Plint

SMI Director Professor Neville Plint said developing public and tailored professional development for industry was a priority for the Institute.

“Jobs and roles are changing within the mining industry and one of SMI’s goals is to ensure our training and short courses are preparing the workforce to meet the future demands of the business,” he said.

SMI offers training in health, safety and risk; social performance; geology, mining and metallurgy; and a new course focusing on mine site environmental management will be offered in 2022.

For further details please visit the professional development website.