Practicing Cultural Humility


Practicing cultural humility is a skill set that helps us develop in each of the previously discussed competencies. When we attempt to appreciate the complexities of the community we live in and how that community shapes us — or prepare to adapt our language and work style to meet the needs of diverse collaborators — it is necessary that we examine and mitigate any arrogance that may undermine these goals. When we practice cultural humility, we remind ourselves of the limits of the knowledge and experiences that inform our values and behaviors, and we resist the urge to prematurely close ourselves off to the knowledge and insights of others. No matter how longstanding our traditions, renowned our practices or revered we are for our approaches, every new encounter presents an opportunity to reflect on and improve our work.

At Oregon State, practicing cultural humility may look like an event coordinator reimagining standard operating procedures and policies after realizing that their long-held practices are impeding access for low-resource students. It may also look like an instructor recognizing the limits of their teaching strategies and investing in their own professional development to adapt to the shifting needs of new students.

Individually, learning in this dimension may look like increased self-awareness and awareness of others. We may improve our tolerance of uncertainty, grow our capacity for ideation and innovation, and become more adept at integrating new knowledge into our practices. It may also look like moving through our work with openness, curiosity and flexibility. As a community, when we practice cultural humility together, we may position ourselves to maximize our learning and push the limits of our practice.

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