Conversations About Culture: Video and Lesson Plan

group of diverse students smiling.

According to Gray (2005), “A dialogical approach is preferred wherein we have conversations about our cultures – and their differences and similarities – which we approach with an attitude of humility and curiosity – with the mind of a learner rather than an expert (despite our considerable knowledge about social work)” (p. 237).

Introducing the concept of cultural humility as a guiding principle for effective cross-cultural communication and collaboration.

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 and any other interested individuals. It was produced in association with the UB School of Social Work's Institute on Sustainable Global Engagement.

On this page:

The Importance of Cultural Humility [12:50 min]

screen capture from video of group of women

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 on its 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 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.

Contact Us

Sarah Richards-Desai, MSW; 

Laura Lewis, PhD, LCSW; 

Thank You

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 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.  

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

How to Cite

Please cite this work as Richards-Desai, S., Lewis, L. (2016) Conversations about Culture: The Importance of Cultural Humility. Retrieved from