Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building the World We Dream About for Young Adults: An Anti-racist Multicultural Program

Handout 1: Multicultural Competence

The definition is originally from Donald B. Pope-Davis, A. L. Reynolds, J. G. Dings, and T. M. Ottavi, in “Multicultural Competencies of Doctoral Interns at University Counseling Centers: An Exploratory Investigation,” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol. 25, pages 466–470 (1994). Modifications for the UUA were made by Paula Cole Jones to include multicultural competence in institutional change. The definition was further modified by the UUA Journey to Wholeness Transformation Committee on March 14, 2008, and published in Appendix A of the report Snapshots on the Journey: Assessing Cultural Competence in Ministerial Formation.


"Cultural competence" is an appreciation of and sensitivity to the history, current needs, strengths, and resources of communities and individuals who historically have been underserved and underrepresented in our Association. Specifically, this entails:

  • an awareness of one's own biases and cultural assumptions
  • content knowledge about cultures different from one's own
  • an accurate self-assessment of one's multicultural skills and comfort level
  • an appropriate application of cultural knowledge and an awareness of the cultural assumptions underlying institutional and group processes
  • an ability to make culture norms visible
  • an ability to create structure that is inclusive of multiple cultural perceptions and experiences

A person who displays multicultural competence:

  • can listen and behave without imposing their own values and assumptions on others
  • carries an attitude of respect when approaching people of different cultures, which entails engagement in a process of self-reflection and self-critique
  • has the ability to move beyond their own biases
  • can maintain a communication style that is not based on being argumentative and competitive; can reach shared outcomes without manipulating or wearing down others with compelling evidence
  • is curious about the other person and seeks solutions that work across shared interests
  • is comfortable asking questions when uncertain or unclear about the assumptions of an individual or group
  • intentionally seeks to see, hear, and understand the cultural "other"