Unlearning “Stranger Danger”: Developing Cultural Competence in Canadian Military Professionals Through Collective Learning and Self-Reflection



The Canadian Armed Forces has signaled an important shift in how the institution seeks to address diversity within, which has resulted in amendments to professional military education curricula with increased emphasis on developing cultural competencies. Building towards a heutagogic approach, this chapter is presented in three sections. Section “Cultural and institutional barriers to cultural competence: The Canadian case” presents the premise that military professionals can develop cultural competence by critically reflecting upon their own institutional and Canadian cultures. Section “Learning diversity in the classroom: a prerequisite for cultural competence” provides examples of academic work which articulates why the eroding of “us/them” binaries helps people to understand each other better. The final section presents the teaching philosophies and methods needed for this type of skill development. We draw on a teaching philosophy which highlights that educators and learners possess positionality and posit that educators and learners can collectively make visible, and confront, tacit biases, stereotypes, and narrow adversarial worldviews. Applications of this philosophy helps to lay the foundation for heutagogy, a teaching method focused on collaboration, critical self-reflection, and student-driven learning: components which we esteem as beneficial to the development of cultural competence in military members.


Culture Professional military education Pedagogy Heutagogy Cultural competence 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and SecurityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Forces CollegeONCanada

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