The importance of cultural humility: Online module

This lesson plan and module was created by Sarah Richards-Desai, MSW, in conjunction with Dr. Laura Lewis, assistant dean for global partnerships and co-director of the Institute on Sustainable Global Engagement at the University at Buffalo The State University of New York.

This online learning module is designed to facilitate skills for effective cross cultural communication and collaboration. The very important concept of cultural humility is a central focus. Cultural humility entails acknowledging difference, and positioning ourselves as people interested in learning and understanding. Cultural humility is particularly relevant to a trauma-informed, human-rights-based approach to social work practice; it underscores the dignity and value of the individual and empowers the client as expert in their experience.

This module can be used as a resource for educators, students planning to study abroad or engage in international field work, faculty engaged in cross-cultural research and partnerships, human service practitioners, educators, and any other interested parties.

Because the process of self-reflection is so important for the development of cultural humility, sample reflection exercises are provided.

Learning Objectives

  1. Define the concept of cultural humility;
  2. Discuss the difference between cultural competence and cultural humility;
  3. Highlight the role cultural humility plays in social work practice;
  4. Explore the dynamics of difference;
  5. Reflect on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes which are associated with becoming culturally self-aware and valuing diversity;
  6. Increase awareness of unconscious cultural stereotypes, and the impact of these on service recipients.

Materials for the lesson are organized as follows:

  1. Lecture Sources – Videos; Readings
  2. Reflective Exercises
  3. Self-Assessment Tools
  4. Additional Resources
  5. References

You can find the link to the complete online module in Practitioner Tools à Reflection: Intercultural Border Crossing, Power, and Privilege.

Richards-Desai, S. & Lewis, L. (2017). The importance of cultural humility: Online module. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from