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Qualey-Skjervold Conference Preview: Focusing Your Cultural Lens

By Heather Lee, Project Manager

The planning committee for the 2015 Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference is excited to announce an important session related to the topic of social justice at the conference, set for April 8-9 at the University’s Landscape Arboretum. The session, titled “Focusing Your Cultural Lens for Cultural Self-Study,” is closely linked to a conference focus area — to explore how the concept of “culture” varies by individual. How we define and approach others with similar or different cultures than our own significantly affects the outcomes of our work.

Cultural self-study helps us to “see” (become more consciously aware) of how European-American cultural characteristics and values have become normalized and embedded within our institutional structures, mental models, and academic disciplines. Our partners and guides through this exploration will be Craig Hassel, Ph.D. and Sara Axtell, both with the University, as well as independent consultant Janice Barbee. These three are affiliated with Healing Roots, an organization that creates learning opportunities for people of European heritage to study their own culture and history in order to become agents of change in creating a healthy society. They will emphasize the importance of culture as a resource and a healthy cultural identity as essential to doing just work across cultures. The Healing Roots motto is: “To better appreciate what other cultures have to offer, we must appreciate culture within ourselves.”

For more background information on this exploration into culture, please review Dr. Hassel’s article, Practicing the Craft of Cross-Cultural Engagement. Written in 2005, it still rings true today and can give you food for thought in preparation for the upcoming conference.
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