Using the Intercultural Praxis Model to Build Bridges: Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Global Context

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Big Question: How can I leverage my identity to effect positive social change and foster an interdependent global society rooted in equity?

The pages in these modules invite learners to engage in critical self-reflection, examine historical contexts of inequality and understand the layers of identity as they relate to place and history.

Learners will be encouraged to:

  • Expand their self-awareness, especially cultural self-awareness 
  • Interrogate power, privilege, and positionality in a global setting 
  • Understand/examine local contexts of inequality and oppression rooted within the historical context
  • Acquire the ability to shift perspectives and reflect upon differing ways of understanding 
  • Use newfound knowledge and skills to positively and responsibly contribute to our interdependent society

Our identities are the way that we present to the world. Sometimes self-identified, other times imposed, our interactions with each other are influenced by who we are. Identities are shaped by the values and attitudes of the cultural groups that we belong to. It is increasingly evident that in our interdependent world, we must do the work necessary to build bridges across cultures, starting with an understanding of who we are and how our identities shape our perceptions with a goal of becoming better intercultural communicators. 

These pages are underpinned by intercultural praxis, a set of skills and practices for critical reflective thinking and acting to become more effective as intercultural communicators, thinkers, and actors in the global context (Sorrells, Intercultural Communication: Globalization and Social Justice, 2nd edition):

The intercultural praxis model by Dr. Kathryn Sorrells advances a non-linear approach to communication across cultures, constantly challenging us to contextualize our identities and those of others within historic systems of inequality that have shaped our positioning in the world today. 

Intercultural praxis is made up of six dimensions: inquiry, framing, positioning, dialogue, reflection, and action:

Inquiry refers to a desire and willingness to know, to ask, to find out, and to learn. It requires that we be willing to take risks, allowing our own way of viewing and being in the world to be challenged and changed. Lastly, we should be willing to suspend judgments about others in order to see and interpret others and the world from different points of view.

Framing indicates that frames always and inevitably limit our perspectives and our views on ourselves, others, and the world around us. We see things through individual, cultural, national, and regional frames that necessarily include some things and exclude others. It is critical that we become aware of the frames of reference from which we view and experience the world.

Positioning allows us to acknowledge that we are positioned differently with both material and symbolic consequences. Our positionality may shift and change based on where we are and with whom we are communicating. “[E]xamine the relationship between power and what we think of as “knowledge” and to recognise that our knowledge of the world is socially and historically constructed and produced in relation to power.”

Dialogue, derived from the Greek word dialogos, means through, between or across words, their meanings, speech or thought. Therefore, instead of solely a conversation between two people, in an ICP context dialogue is a transformative process, in which we are cognizant of  differences in power and positionality. Dialogue invites us to stretch ourselves to imagine, experience and creatively engage with others.

Reflection is the capacity to learn from introspection, observing oneself in relation to others. Dominant culture devalues reflection in favor of doing activities and accomplishing tasks, yet it is central to the process of inquiry, framing, positioning and dialogue. Reflection enables us to act in the world in meaningful, effective and responsible ways.

Intercultural praxis is an ongoing process of thinking, reflection and Action. Action includes being aware of what informs our choices and actions, to think about the implications of our actions and to think about how our choices and actions are interrelated in the context of globalization and relations of power. The Intercultural Praxis Model bridges the gap between identity, diversity, equity and inclusion, and global communication. It is a roadmap to navigate difference that invites understanding, compassion and action. As you move through the following pages, we invite you to try to apply a facet of the Intercultural Praxis model to the content. While answering reflection questions on your identity, consider the identities of those around you who are different. While positioning French, German and Brazilian citizens within historical context, reflect on how people interact in your own country — whose voices are heard?

Citation for this page: Sandiford, N., DeGuzman, K. & Brandauer, S. (2021). Using the Intercultural Praxis Model to Build Bridges: Identity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a Global Context. In S. Brandauer and E. Hartman (Eds.). Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions. The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative. Retrieved from: http://globalsolidaritylocalaction.sites.haverford.edu/identity-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-in-a-global-context