MSI Fellowship Week: The Contribution of Community Psychology to Understanding Cultural Competence in Practice

Greetings. My name is Tiffeny Jimenez and I identify first as a Community Psychologist (CP). I am also an Assistant Professor of the Community Psychology Doctoral program at National Louis University in Chicago. As a CP, I inherently very quickly identify inequalities, injustices, and potential for collaboration where others may be more likely to see only conflict, and from this perspective, evaluation is a particularly salient and necessary skill set. How else might we judge whether social justice is achieved? It is towards this aim that I take on all inquiry and action. This year, I have had the privilege to be one of this year’s MSI Fellows where I have worked with colleagues towards gaining an in-depth interdisciplinary perspective on the state of our understanding Cultural Competence across Social Work, Health Psychology, Sociology, and Community Psychology. I will speak to the contribution of CP to this focus area.

Lesson Learned: The overall CP framework facilitates cultural competency and humility in all acts of professionalism with explicit emphasis on how we think and why we act in certain ways within a socio-cultural ecological context. CP views cultural competency as cross-cultural awareness assuming we all are interdependent and come to the table with diverse cultural lenses that influence action. Cultural competency is a critical consciousness beyond the acquisition of skills; it’s a way of being in every day interactions that allows for a clearer understanding of one’s own personal place in the world, personal biases, and an understanding that multiple perspectives are present at any one time.

The emphasis of CP is on promoting social justice and identifying the root causes of social problems by changing conditions so diverse populations can thrive individually within a shared geography. Much of the literature on cultural competency centers around: providing in-depth localized case examples of how CPs engage as equal peers with others to address individual and social problems from a culturally grounded perspective; describe adaptations of community programming to meet the needs of underserved populations; discuss the importance of using methods that capture historical context and the voices of less dominant perspectives; emphasize the promotion of dynamic processes within community-level systems rather than individual-level outcomes; and advocate understanding the cultural landscape that undergirds the various policies and practices that perpetuate inequalities and maintain the status quo. Main concepts: power, privilege, structural inequality, decolonizing methodologies, organizational culture, critical consciousness, liberation, indigenous psychologies, divergent cultural practices, and ecological sustainability.

Rad Resources: For more information on being culturally competent, see “Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice” (2015). Particularly Chapter 4 by Kien Lee titled “Effecting Social Change in Diverse Contexts”. The Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice also addresses cultural competency in CP practice from a global perspective:

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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