Working Draft 8/2007 1San José State University School of Social Work Transcultural Perspective – A Working Definition The transcultural perspective is an important part of the mission of the San Jose State University School of Social Work…and the elements of the perspective are important in understanding and informing social work practice. Rather than having a separate course in diversity, elements of the transcultural perspective are infused in different courses throughout the curriculum in relation to social work knowledge, skills and values. Specifically, the transcultural perspective embraces five interrelated but distinct dimensions of diversity: 1) recognizing the importance of culture in social work at all levels of practice; 2) applying principles of cultural competence in practice; 3) understanding dynamics of power, privilege and oppression; 4) maintaining an awareness of ones own cultural perspectives, values, and beliefs; and 5) demonstrating respect in interactions with client systems. The model below describes the five core dimensions of the transcultural perspective. Each dimension is interlocked and continuous with each other, thereby forming a tightly integrated model. Figure 1: Elements of the Transcultural Perspective Cultural KnowledgeCultural CompetencePower, Privilege, Oppression, & Structural ContextsRespectful PartnershipPositionality & Self-ReflexivityCultural Knowledge This dimension emphasizes the importance of understanding concepts and processes related to culture and how these intersect with social work concerns. All human beings operate in cultural contexts and culture informs how people construct both the material world (e.g., transportation, shelter, food, art) and the social world (e.g., definitions and beliefs about family, child-rearing, religion, kinship, social roles, parenting, health and mental health, aging, education, etc.) (Hutchison, 2003). This dimension of the transcultural model focuses on the discovery of key knowledge about the construct of culture as well as processes for how to locate knowledge about various cultural communities. Thus, the dimension highlights both knowledge and the process of inquiry. Practice grounded in knowledge of culture acknowledges variations among individuals, recognizes the importance of understanding cultural context in social work practice, and emphasizes strong generic social work skills and competencies (Williams, 2006). Students learn
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