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Fall 2021 Learning Breaks: Cultural Competency and Cultural Humanity

During the fall semester, the college will host a series of discussions to create a forum for college graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff, and faculty to learn about one another’s scholarship, and to network with peers. The discussions will provide an opportunity for participants to informally share scholarship ideas, present scholarship outcomes/results, and work through relevant scholarship problems.

The objectives for the Learning Breaks include:

  • Enhance understanding of scholarship agendas within the college
  • Share and introduce established or emerging methodologies
  • Discuss and problem-solve common scholarship challenges and obstacles
  • Strengthen scholarship capacity within the college

Learning Breaks will include a 40 minute discussion led by a faculty member, followed by a 20 minute question and answer period. Participants are expected to think critically and speak respectively.

During Fall 2021, the theme of the Learning Breaks will be Cultural Competency and Cultural Humility. Seven Learning Breaks are scheduled, with faculty from across the college leading each discussion.

Date, Time, Location Faculty Topic
Tuesday, 8/24, 3:30-4:30, Claxton 206 Jennifer Jabson Tree – Public Health Cultural competence is missing in the health care provided by physicians and nurses caring for LGBTQ+ patients in East Tennessee
Friday, 9/3, 1:00-2:00, Claxton 206 Jud Laughter – Theory & Practice in Teacher Education Metaphors for Whiteness
Tuesday, 9/14, 3:30-4:30, Claxton 206 Stefanie Benjamin – Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management Black Travel movement: Systemic racism informing tourism
Friday, 10/8, 1:00-2:00, Claxton 206 Marsha Spence and Betsy Anderson Steeves – Nutrition Assessing intercultural development of Maternal & Child Health Nutrition Trainees
Tuesday, 10/19, 3:30-4:30, Claxton 206 Leia Cain – Educational Psychology and Counseling Reflexivity regardless of methodology: Examining our own cultural competency and humility throughout research
Friday, 11/5, 1:00-2:00, Claxton 206 Samara Madrid Akpovo – Child and Family Studies & Lydiah Nganga, Teacher Education, University of Wyoming Minority-world professionals in majority-world contexts: Do international field experiences promote intercultural competence or reinforce ethnocentrism?
Tuesday, 11/16, 3:30-4:30, Claxton 206 Frances Harper – Theory & Practice in Teacher Education Building research partnerships: Considerations of power dynamics across social identities and institutional roles

Participation Guidelines for Learning Breaks

  1. Respect: Treat others with dignity and humanize all people in the room. Remember, we don’t know what we don’t know, and we start where we start.
  2. Positioning Ourselves as Learners: We are all learners here. By being here, you consent to learn in public.
  3. Listening: Be active, engaged, and compassionate while listening, and practice taking space and sharing space.
  4. Curiosity: Seek to understand, not persuade or convince. Be open to new insights, and be inspired to push and challenge. Leave room for complexity: every time you think you “get it,” there will be another layer. Ask meaningful questions if something is new to you.
  5. Bravery: Expect honest conversation and sharing to be uncomfortable at times. Be patient, open, and understanding. Practice sitting with discomfort and building your capacity to tolerate discomfort.
  6. “I” Statements and Advice-Giving: Avoid unnecessary advice-giving. If you’re about to type “you should,” pause and ask yourself if advice was asked for. Stick with “I” statements when you respond to others. Speak from your experience and your empathy and let others speak for themselves; trust this other person has a totally unique experience you know little about. Some “I” or “me” statements could be:
  • I am wondering…
  • I am noticing…
  • I am feeling…
  • I want to name…
  • That makes me think about…

Participation Guidance for Discussions on Cultural Competency and Cultural Humility

Based upon the “Consent Culture in CI Community Guidelines” and the “Explore More Community Guidelines,” which, in turn, were based off “Be Nourished’s Body Trust Summit” & “thINKingDANCE community agreements.”

The goal of this guidance is to foster and maintain safer and brave spaces so that personal/introspective and collective learning and dialogue on topics relevant to cultural competency and cultural humility can occur.

~Safer spaces are created following rules of respect so people feel safe enough to express their identities.

~“Braver spaces ask people to face the discomfort of differing viewpoints and lived experiences while respecting other people’s identities[1].” Brave spaces invite in “ouch” moments: when feelings of discomfort arise about a topic or perspective that one is unfamiliar with. Defensiveness and fear may arise in an “ouch” moment. In Brave spaces, we practice differentiating between sitting in discomfort for growth (an “ouch” moment) and removing ourselves from the space for safety reasons (a harm-inducing or traumatizing moment). Please keep your positionality in mind: those from marginalized identities are often unjustly required to sit with more discomfort (and in turn experience more harm and oppressions) than those who come from dominant identities.

We are committed to creating an environment free from harmful behavior toward people based on their identity which includes race, gender identity and expression, sexuality, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, religion, class, national origin, political and social affiliations. Harmful behaviors may include:

  • Harassment
  • Coercion
  • Intimidation
  • Manipulation
  • Discrimination
  • Physical, verbal, or emotional abuse
  • Intuition suppressing (racial gaslighting)
  • Microaggressions
  • Use of offensive language

Suggestions for How to Respond to Harmful Behaviors

  • First take a deep breath and collect your thoughts.
  • Say “ouch” when a harmful comment is made. Say “oops” followed by a genuine apology when you make a harmful comment. If you are given feedback, please say thank you.
  • If you don’t realize in the moment that harm was done, you can bring it up later.
  • Without making assumptions, state, “I feel…” uncomfortable because of what was said or done and have an open discussion
  • “Could you explain what you mean by…?”
  • “What you said made me uncomfortable and I want to make sure I understand where you’re coming from. What do you mean when you say…?”
  • “I would like to push back on what you said/did because I feel/see it differently”
  • If you need support, reach out to a trusted colleague.

Capacity Building[2] for Sitting with Discomfort

Collective learning and dialogue on topics relevant to cultural competency and cultural humility may cause feelings of discomfort. Such feelings of discomfort could be signaling the recognition that something within yourself and your experiences may be coming into conflict or to the surface of what is being discussed. Building capacity of sitting with and tolerating discomfort allows us to remain in active conversation about racism and anti-racism. Here are some resources than could be helpful in building capacity for sitting with discomfort:

[1]Directly quoted from the Earthdance Consent Culture in CI Symposium Community Guidelines

[2]Nkem Ndefo “Wisdom conversations – Embodiment and Social Justice”