On Wednesday, 1/13, Ed Lee, Barkley Forum Director, spent an intellectually exhausting day with us, teaching faculty about cultural humility and moderating conversations with select classes about self awareness, the sources of our beliefs, and the right of the other to hold a divergent belief. For a host of reasons, the day was fascinating.
Mr. Lee's definition of cultural humility:
“The cliff notes version [of cultural humility] is that you are striving to A) be self-reflexive and understand your biases, strengths and shortcomings B) be other-oriented or accounting for other perspectives and C) seek to develop egalitarian partnerships as you negotiate the world.”
His proposition is a philosophically and personally challenging one. He's asking us at once to reflexively second guess ourselves--why do we believe what we believe--and to acknowledge the autonomy of the other to hold challenging--even potentially threatening--opinions. Faculty discussed the idea, and wandered off on interesting tangents at lunch. Student conversations meandered from politics, to our tribes, and finally to agreeing to disagree.
By analogy, he's asserting that we should seek out the shared space in a venn diagram. From this vantage point, where differences are peripheral, bonds can germinate and become the focal point. Human history, once can argue, is a story of divisiveness. How refreshing that Mr. Lee, like many others, urges us to proactively seek out and celebrate our shared humanity.