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SOCW 6101: Essential Skills for Social Work Practice
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Week 6: Cultural Awareness in Social Work
What does cultural competence really mean?

Some social workers argue that the focus on “cultural competence” creates an expectation that cultural competence equals an end state that can be achieved once one has acquired all of the knowledge and skills related to practicing with a specific group. This conceptualization ignores the influence of intersectional identities on an individual’s unique cultural experience and positions the social worker as “expert in the other,” often resulting in reinforcement of stereotypical thinking.

Social work as a profession has begun shifting to the concept of cultural awareness and the use of cultural humility. These concepts recognize that the client is the expert in their own cultural experience and that the social worker must take a humble approach as a constant learner. In addition, social workers need to recognize the institutional and historic discrimination that influence the social experience of a cultural group identity.

This week, you examine the importance of cultural awareness within social work practice and the skills necessary for incorporating it into practice with diverse populations. You also interview a diverse individual and present on your experience.

Learning Objectives; Students will:

Analyze culturally competent social work practice
Analyze skills for addressing barriers to cultural competence
Analyze culture from a micro, mezzo, and macro level
Critically reflect on cultural difference

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