UEP Alumni Panel: Cultural Competency in Practice

The Tufts UEP Intercultural Practice Group (IPG) hosted this week’s installment of the Fall Colloquium Series on Cultural Competency in Practice. A panel of UEP alumni gathered to examine aspects of interculturalism in the workplace. Interculturalism, in contrast to multiculturalism, promotes dialogue across cultures rather than mere acceptance of other, separate cultures.

Libby Mahaffy, working with as the assistant director of conflict resolution at the MIT Division of Student life, brought advice and anecdotes from her experiences. She underlined the need for people in privileged positions to gain practice engaging in contentious issues, something they are not frequently obligated to do. In the context of racial issues, this term is referred to as white fragility.

Michelle Moon has worked with a range of organizations in the Boston area, including the Watertown Health Department and the Fairmount Greenway. She stressed the importance of developing strategies to keep people involved in dealing with issues in their communities.

Sarah Howard has worked on creating sustainable food systems, and emphasized the importance of communication across lines of gender, class, race and ethnicity, but also urban and rural lines.

All three panelists highlighted the need to work on negotiation strategies, especially in efforts to avoid backing people into a corner. It is important not just to point out the problems within someone’s statements or actions, but to provide a way of working on it and moving forward.

The next UEP Colloquium, Beyond Public Policy-Private Sector Responses to Climate Change, will take place at the Sophia Gordon Hall from 12-1pm on Wednesday, October 22.