‘You’ll Never Get Cultural Competence in Science’: An Australian Perspective on Integrating Cultural Competence into Science Teaching Via Cultural Accountability

Rebecca Cross, Rosanne Quinnell, Tina Bell, Paul Rhodes, Zsuzsanna Dancso, Thomas Hubble, Glenda Wardle, Melinda Lewis, Alice Motion, Dominic Murphy, Jaime Gongora

Abstract


In the last decade, the Australian higher education sector has championed the inclusion of cultural competence (CC) as a key graduate quality. Diverse disciplinary learning and teaching approaches requiring careful consideration about how best to achieve the end goal of supporting graduates on their individual, life-long pathways to engage with CC. Science can be viewed as an inflexible and immovable discipline. This perception seems particularly prevalent with respect to scientists acknowledging epistemes outside of a western cultural frame. It follows that eliciting curriculum reform with respect to CC broadly, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives more specifically, was perceived to be a significant challenge. Through interviews with eleven non-Indigenous academics across the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney, we uncovered several strategies for including multiple knowledges in science, with academics traversing these new horizons by building on the work of and collaborating with Indigenous Elders and academics to create enriched learning spaces. Alongside these strategies are staff reflections on their CC journey, which indicate that this endeavour entails necessary and vital discomforts that ultimately enable transformation. This process while guided by CC, led to experiences of cultural humility and a conviction in the role of cultural accountability.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30722/IJISME.29.03.005