Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility Collaborative

Hand prints in the shape of a treeCultural Competence as a concept was initially created as an offshoot of multiculturalism and globalization. We typically think of cultural competence as a panacea in addressing cross-cultural integration from the micro, mezzo and macro perspectives. In professional practice, cultural competence proposes numerous ways of understanding society and provides practice approaches and strategies that acknowledge and respect people from diverse backgrounds e.g. sexual orientation, social class, race, color, ethnicity, culture, language, immigration status, gender, marital status, age, political ideology, religion, literacy level and physical attributes.

As we further examine Cultural Competence, we must think about positions of inequality, recognize undercurrents of power differences, and explore ways of confirming a social justice perspective within the context of difference, intersectionality and empowerment.  We must also understand Cultural Competence from the viewpoint of history as well as ongoing current local, national and global disparities.

Competence Word Cloud

A plethora of definitions for Cultural Competence abounds in literature. Some of these are compiled here to encourage everyone to begin thinking about how these descriptions can be applied in teaching and learning.

  • In relation to care, Cultural Competence requires sensitivity on the part of the health care professional to a host of differences in the person, such as culture, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status (Cuella, Brennan, Vito, & de Lion Siantz, 2008).
  • Cultural competence has been defined as the capacity to function effectively as a helper in the context of cultural differences (Cross, 2007).
  • Competence implies an outcome and this may lead to misunderstanding about the approach to learning about a culture and its people (Crigger, Brannigan, & Baird, 2006).
  • Cultural competence is a dynamic ongoing process, and suggested that collaboration may be a better term to reflect its dynamic nature (Crigger et al, p. 16).
  • Cultural competence is a “process involving the attributes of cultural awareness, knowledge, skills, encounters and desire” (Campiha-Bacote, 2002).
  • Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (Cross, Bazron, Dennis & Isaacs, 1989).
  • Cultural competence is defined not by a discrete endpoint but as a commitment and active engagement in a lifelong process that individuals enter into on an ongoing basis (L. Brown, personal communication, March 18., 1984).

Resources by Subject:

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Social Work: Cultural Competence

Social Work: Cultural Humility

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Other Allied Health

Contact Information:

Dr. Guia Calicdan-Apostle
Associate Professor of Social Work