“An analysis and summary … of common trends for a new set of skills and competencies necessary for success in the twenty-first century, studied by policy-making institutions like UNESCO, by education institutions like the British Council, by multinational corporations like IBM and Google, and by influencer organisations like LinkedIn and the World Economic Forum.”
Entitled “After Cultural Literacy: New Models of Intercultural Competency for Life and Work in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) World”, the article is published in Educational Review, 2019. It is a must-read for any organization desiring to educate and train capable leaders, workers, citizens, and community members, as well as for interculturalists and diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners who seek to build the business case for the work we do. Whether you work in education, business, or in the public sector, with refugees, migration or teams, in economic development or sustainability, this article will prove useful.
“Even a brief analysis of global tendencies – as increased international interconnectedness, the rapid rate of urbanisation, technological advances, increased migration, and the devastation of natural resources – makes it evident that labour markets are increasingly demanding workers with advanced skills. Workplace changes, the transnational movement of refugees, economic migrants, professional and expert service providers, and student exchange programmes created a strong and urgent need for people to learn to live together in this diverse world. Consequently, cultural literacy has come into sharper focus.”
I am proud that the Cultural Detective project has made a huge contribution to the development of intercultural competence in this world of ours. The learning that authors gain while writing their Cultural Detective packages in collaboration with our staff and five to six teams of other-culture authors, and the transformation that the method and materials create with the guidance and facilitation of our expert and dedicated community of practitioners, truly astound me. I’ve always said that products are like children, they take on lives of their own, and Cultural Detective is no exception; it is used in places and ways I could never have imagined, by people I’m proud to work with, and with results that help bridge the polarized divides in contemporary society. This article by Elena Shliakhovchuk, a member of our distinguished authoring team, shows what a fine mind and a determined heart can do to make a difference. Below I will provide a few quotes from her treatise, in hopes that it will pique your curiosity to read the article in full and continue your learning.
The Business Case for Cultural Literacy
(And the use of Cultural Detective, which is proven to develop these competencies.)
- “The spread of literacy in the world and the inclusion of the ability to create, consume and communicate different materials associated with various contexts in the modern understanding of literacy, inclines us to be cooperative and more tolerant to a different other. Harvard psychologist Pinker links widespread literacy to the reduction in people’s “taste for cruelty” and the widening of the circle of tolerance towards others, thus empowering ‘the empathy escalator’.” (2011 Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. New York, NY: Viking.
- “Cultural literacy has begun to be seen as a “modus operandi” (Ochoa, McDonald, & Monk, 2016 García Ochoa, G., McDonald, S., & Monk, N. (2016). Embedding cultural literacy in higher education: A new approach. Intercultural Education, 27(6), 546–559. ) that “highlights communication, comparison and critique, bringing ideas together in an interdisciplinary and international collaboration” (Segal, Kancewicz-Hoffman, Landfester, 2013 Segal, N., Kancewicz-Hoffman, N., & Landfester, U. (2013). Cultural literacy in Europe today (Vol. January). , p. 4). Furthermore, Cultural Literacy is claimed to have the same implications as Opportunity Cost in economics and “can be applied and verified through everyday experience, in any and every context” (Ochoa et al., 2016).
- “Similarly, Rosen argues that management and technology alone will not give economies supremacy, but populations will also need to be culturally literate, “Culture is no longer an obstacle to be overcome. Rather, it is a critical lever for competitive advantage”. He postulates that tomorrow’s leaders will strive to be culturally wise by appreciating similarities and differences between peoples, companies, and countries; and they will know that superficial understanding negatively impacts businesses (Rosen, 2000Rosen, R. (2000). Global literacies: Lessons on business leadership and national cultures: a landmark study of CEOs from 28 countries (1st ed.). Simon & Schuster.).”
- “UNESCO Global Citizenship Education (2014 Global Citizenship Education: an emerging perspective; Technical Consultation on Global Citizenship Education. (2014). ) and the UNESCO “The Education 2030. Incheon Declaration Framework for Action” (2016 Incheon declaration framework for action for the implementation of sustainable development goal 4 ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.) underline the importance of citizenship education and the empowerment of citizens to resolve global challenges and to contribute to a peaceful, inclusive and tolerant world. UNESCO’s “The Hangzhou Declaration Placing Culture at the Heart of Sustainable Development Policies” (2013 UNESCO. The Hangzhou declaration placing culture at the heart of sustainable development policies. ) emphasises that cultural literacy is an integral part of quality education and plays a vital role in the promotion of inclusive and unbiased societies.”
Recent Leading Research on Cultural Literacy
“Over the last decade, reputable institutions… have been analysing the skill set required for a successful specialist in the twenty-first century, concluding that intercultural skills are in high demand.
- Oxford Economics, 2012 Oxford Economics. (2012). Global Talent 2021. How the new geography of talent will transform human resource strategies. Executive summary. .
- British Council, 2013 British Council. (2013). Culture at work. The value of intercultural skills in the workplace.
- World Economic Forum, 2016 World Economic Forum. (2016). New vision for education: Fostering social and emotional learning through technology.
- The latest LinkedIn Workplace Learning Trends Report indicates that soft skills make up the essential skill set that should be cultivated through talent-development programmes. Ninety-two percent of executives name soft skills as equally or more important than technical skills, with 64 percent of responders highlighting the importance of communication skills and 55 percent collaboration skills, confirming that effective communication with others (in its broad meaning) is key to success in the twenty-first century (LinkedIn, 2018 Linkedin, L. co. (2018). Workplace learning & development report 2018 | LinkedIn learning. Retrieved March 21, 2018..
- P21 Partnership for twenty-first Century Learning amongst education, business, community, and government leaders developed P21’s Framework for twenty-first Century Learning to define and summarise the skills and knowledge students required at work, for life and citizenship in the 2020s. The Life and Career Skills category includes Social and Cross-Cultural Skills as required for navigating complicated life and work environments (P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2016 P21 framework for 21st century learning 21st century student outcomes and support systems framework for 21st century learning. (2016). ).
An Updated Model of Cultural Literacy
“Cultural literacy plays an essential role in building social inclusion, promoting economic development, coping with the opportunities and challenges surrounding globalisation and innovation, and fostering sustainability.
Based on the literature reviewed, in order to meet the unique demands of global interconnectedness in a culturally mindful way, the following competencies and skills of the updated cultural literacy model should be cultivated (Figure 3):”
It is worth noting here that regular use of Cultural Detective develops all of these competencies.
Give Elena’s article a read, and then probe more deeply into a couple of the references she links to. You will be glad you did.