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Cultural Competence, Cultural Humility: Concept and Strategies


  • Sojourna Cunningham
  • Aurora Hermida-Ruiz
  • Doron Samuel Siegel

 1. Description and Goals of FLC

A.  Topic Area. We propose to form an FLC in which participants will collaborate in the study of the following topic: Cultural Competence, Cultural Humility: Concepts and Strategies.

Cultural competence is a set of knowledge, skills, and abilities which many educators and leaders aspire to develop and nurture in themselves and others.  Sometimes called intercultural or cross-cultural competence, the concept has been defined in a myriad of ways. Many agree that it is best conceived of as a bundle of knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes that enable the holder to think, behave, communicate, and relate effectively in intercultural settings.[1]  This competence requires skills and values such as an ability to shift one’s frame of reference; a tendency to be curious and open to others; and a commitment to maintaining awareness, knowledge, and respect for identities other than one’s own.[2]  

Furthermore, many engaged in discussions of cultural competence have in recent decades suggested that it should be replaced by a potentially broader, more dynamic conception, cultural humility.[3]  Still others have suggested the blending of the conceptions, offering the term cultural competemility as a new moniker.[4]  

Cultural competence and, to a lesser extent cultural humility, are ideas referenced frequently, especially in the context of discussions about thriving and inclusive educational communities.  There is certainly broad consensus about their importance in educational settings and elsewhere.  However, we here at UR are no different from any other community in the sense that we have significant room for continued growth and improvement.  Indeed, like any set of competencies, these are not merely lessons learned once and internalized forever.  Instead, they are more appropriately conceived of as ways of being in the world that require ongoing learning, reflection, and action.

B. Goals & Impacts. Our goal is to engage collaboratively in the very sort of ongoing learning, reflection, and action that is essential for those who desire to teach and lead with cultural competence and humility. As a result of our efforts, we hope the following impacts will be achieved:

1.  Impacts on participants

a.  Participants, most or all of whom will come to the endeavor with preexisting awareness of these topics, will have the opportunity to individually solidify and deepen our formal understanding of the theories and practices of cultural competence and humility, focusing especially on the most recent debates and innovations.

b.  Participants will benefit from cross-school, cross-disciplinary, and, indeed, cross-cultural conversations with the aim of broadening our collective awareness and incubating new ideas.

c.  Participants will expand on our respective repertoires of inclusive pedagogy philosophies, strategies, and tactics. Research based concepts will solidify the participants’ ability to resolve conflict and enhance student engagement.

d.  Participants will become more robustly equipped to conduct our University service roles in a manner that prioritizes cultural competence and humility.

2.  Impacts on our students, our colleagues, and the University

a.  The students in participants’ classrooms and other educational settings will experience the benefits of teachers who are engaged in the active pursuit of knowledge, skills, and attitudes of cultural competence and humility, creating conditions best suited for them to, in the words of the Strategic Plan, “engage fully in the life of the University, reach their full potential, and contribute to a robust intellectual community.”

b.  We hope to assemble a simple toolkit of sorts that can be disseminated to colleagues, with a special focus on those who might not yet have engaged robustly with conceptions of cultural competence and humility.  While we have not yet concretized this aspiration, we come to the task inspired by the Inclusive Pedagogy Institute of May 8, 2019, wherein members of the IP Cohort shared some of our learning with as many as 90 colleagues from around the University.  While an undertaking of that magnitude is certainly not contemplated here, we nevertheless hope it proves feasible to share some of what we learn with our colleagues.

c.  As the University continues pursuing concrete initiatives toward a more thriving and inclusive community, we hope this FLC will be yet another item in the growing throughline of efforts to achieve this strategic goal.

C.  Recruitment Plan. We represent the UR Libraries, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Law, and bring our own diversity of identities to this proposed FLC. Going forward, we intend to invite additional colleagues from our own units, as well as colleagues from SPCS and the Business School, to join us.  Ultimately, we hope to develop a membership total of approximately seven people.  We believe this number is large enough to bring an array of voices to the table, without being so big as to hamper the prospects of meeting in person at a time that suits all schedules.


[1] Darla K. Deardorff, Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization, 10 J. Stud. Int’l Educ. 241, 247-48 (2006); see also Neil Hamilton, et al., Helping Students Develop Affirmative Evidence of Cross-Cultural Competency, 19 Scholar: St. Mary’s L. Rev. Race & Soc. Just. 187. 188 (2017).

[2] Deardorff, supra note 1, at 248.

[3] See Josepha Campinha-Bacote, Cultural Competemility: A Paradigm Shift in the Cultural Competence versus Cultural Humility Debate – Part I, 24 Online J. Issues in Nursing 4-4 (Jan. 2019).

[4] Id.