Cultural Literacy

  • R. Cecilia JeffersonEmail author


Over the course of the last decade since the LCME mandate, cultural competence has become a core component of medical education in the USA and Canada. However, the approach varies a great deal between schools, and there is limited evidence to guide the creation of effective curricula. This chapter seeks to present a critique of the competence-centered approach to cross-cultural education, and the potential pitfalls of such an approach, with particular emphasis on Islamophobia. An alternative approach, focused on self-reflection and the idea of literacy, will also be presented.


Education Racism Implicit bias Culture Cross-cultural medicine Cultural competence Critique 


  1. 1.
    Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs Leading to the MD Degree. Functions and structure of a medical school. Washington, DC: Liaison Committee on Medical Education; 2007.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Horvat L, Horey D, Romios P, Kis-Rigo J. Cultural competence education for health professionals. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(5):CD009405. Last accessed 07/10/17.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kumagai AK, Lypson ML. Beyond cultural competence: critical consciousness, social justice, and multicultural education. Acad Med. 2009;84(6):782–7. Last accessed 06/28/17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Freire P. Pedagogy of the oppressed. 20th anniversary edition. New York: Continuum; 1993.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kamaka ML. Designing a cultural competency curriculum: asking the stakeholders. Hawaii Med J. 2010;69(Supplement 3):31–4.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hannah SD, Carpenter-Song E. Patrolling your blind spots: introspection and public catharsis in a medical school faculty development course to reduce unconscious bias in medicine. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2013;37:314–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    White AA 3rd, Logghe HJ, Goodenough DA, Barnes LL, Hallward A, Allen IM, Green DW, Krupat E, Llerena-Quinn R. Self-awareness and cultural identity as an effort to reduce bias in medicine. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2017. Last accessed 07/07/17.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kutob RM, Bormanis J, Crago M, Harris JM Jr, Senf J, Shisslak CM. Cultural competence education for practicing physicians: lessons in cultural humility, nonjudgmental behaviors, and health beliefs elicitation. J Contin Educ Heal Prof. 2013;33(3):164–73. Last accessed 06/28/2017.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    D’Angelo R. White fragility. Int J Crit Pedagog. 2011;3(3):54–70.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations