This module introduces the concept of cultural humility as a guiding principle for effective cross-cultural communication and collaboration. It can be used as a resource for educators, students planning to study abroad or engage in international field work, faculty engaged in cross-cultural research and partnerships, human service practitioners, educators, and any other interested parties. It was produced in association with the UB School of Social Work's Institute on Sustainable Global Engagement.
This video defines the concept of cultural humility and highlights related components. Cultural humility is defined as an ongoing process of self- reflection and self-critique. It entails working collaboratively with clients, and embracing difference. Students, faculty and practitioners reflect on the role of cultural humility in their work and share their insights. The video can be used as on it's own or as part of the lesson plan on cross-cultural competence outlined below.
"There is an element of intentionality; of thinking of ourselves as learners - which takes away the pressure to have everything figured out."
This online learning module is designed to facilitate skills for effective cross cultural communication and collaboration. The very important concept of cultural humility is a central focus. Cultural humility entails acknowledging difference, and positioning ourselves as people interested in learning and understanding. Cultural humility is particularly relevant to a trauma-informed, human-rights-based approach to social work practice; it underscores the dignity and value of the individual and empowers the client as expert in their experience.
This module can be used as a resource for educators, students planning to study abroad or engage in international field work, faculty engaged in cross-cultural research and partnerships, human service practitioners, educators, and any other interested parties.
Because the process of self-reflection is so important for the development of cultural humility, sample reflection exercises are provided.
Instructors may want to give students a pre-test and post-test to assess their knowledge attainment. Alternately, students can be asked to demonstrate learning through participation in role play or self-reflection exercises.
Richards-Desai, S., Lewis, L. (2016) Conversations about Culture: The Importance of Cultural Humility [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/cVmOXVIF8wc.
Elze, D. (2016, June 8). Introduction to Cultural Competence [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/-4uhbv9hWnI.
Elze, D. (2016, June 8). Attribution Theory: Strategies for Engaging Patients/Clients and Avoiding Inaccurate Assumptions [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/mOTac0bS_2A.
A number of skills contribute to the development of cultural competency. These include the ability to: 1) articulate one’s perspective respectfully and clearly; 2) question one’s own perspective; 3) demonstrate awareness of one’s own biases; 4) manage personal biases and stereotypes; and, 5) personalize observations and rephrase using “I” statements.
Consider the fourteen personal competencies identified by Hogan (2007). Rate yourself on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) in each of these areas. Add up the points: 617-70=high; 51-60=moderate, 0-50 needs more practice.
7. Observe attentively
8. Assume complexity
9. Tolerate the stress of uncertainty
10. Have patience
11. Manage personal biases and stereotypes
12. Keep a sense of humor
13. Show respect
14. Show empathy
Describe your personal reaction to this self-assessment exercise.
How will you will focus your own personal and professional development to develop these skills further?
(Adapted from Hogan, 2013)
Fisher-Borne, M., Cain, J. M. & Martin, S. L. (2015). From mastery to accountability: Cultural humility as an alternative to cultural competence. Social Work Education, 34(2), 165-181. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02615479.2014.977244.
Hogan, M. (2013). Four skills of cultural diversity competence: A process for understanding and practice (4th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson-Brooks/Cole.
Working as Allies (2010): Report from project about experiences and practices of people working as allies of indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in North America. This report describes qualities for being ally, and working cross-culturally. Retrieved from http://www.awea.org.nz/allies_north_america
National Association of Social Workers (n.d.). Standards and indicators for cultural competence in social work practice, Retrieved fromhttps://www.socialworkers.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=PonPTDEBrn4%3D&portalid=0.
Yan, M. C. (2008). Exploring cultural tensions in cross-cultural social work practice. Social Work. Vol 53 Issue 4, 317-328. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Miu_Chung_Yan/publication/23318354_Exploring_cultural_tensions_in_cross-cultural_social_work_practice/links/55b6522f08aed621de032fdf.pdf.
Goodman, L.A., Thomas, K.A., Serrata, J.V., Lippy, C., Nnawulezi, N., Ghanbarpour, S., Macy, R., Sullivan, C. & Bair-Merritt, M.A. (2017). Power through partnerships: A CBPR toolkit for domestic violence researchers. National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Harrisburg, PA. Retrieved from https://cbprtoolkit.org. Sections two and three list reasons researcher training make authentic community engagement challenging. Includes questions for self-reflection & videos of researchers reflecting on their experiences.
Cultural Humility: People, Principles and Practices (4-part documentary): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaSHLbS1V4w
USDHHS Multi-Cultural Resources for Health Information: https://sis.nlm.nih.gov/outreach/multicultural.html
Gray, M. (2005). Dilemmas of international social work: Paradoxical processes in indigenization, universalism and imperialism. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14, 231-238.
Hogan, M. (2013). Four skills of cultural diversity competence: A process for understanding and practice (4th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson-Brooks/Cole. Adapted with permission.
This lesson plan and module was created by Sarah Richards-Desai, MSW, in conjunction with Dr. Laura Lewis, assistant dean for global partnerships and co-director of the Institute on Sustainable Global Engagement. We hope that this resource assists you in having your own very important conversations about culture.
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped us in this effort: the colleagues who generously contributed materials and provided advice on resources, the experts in the field who gave permission to include their materials, and the SSW students who provided their perspective. Special thanks to Dr. Mikel Hogan, Dr. Diane Elze, and Dr. Kathleen Kost for the resources they provided and for their input. Special thanks also to Razak Nsor and Annie Bruns, both MSW Students at the time these materials were developed, and to Stephanie Vroman-Goodrich, LMSW, for their contributions.
Please cite this work as Richards-Desai, S., Lewis, L. (2016) Conversations about Culture: The Importance of Cultural Humility. Retrieved from https://socialwork.buffalo.edu/resources/conversations-about-culture.html.