Cultural Humility and Theater of the Oppressed

An ACMHE Webinar with Vivian Chávez,
Associate Professor of Health Education at San Francisco State University
Originally broadcast on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017, 2:00-3:00 pm ET
Free and open to the public, with an optional, suggested donation of $10


Watch the recording:


What does cultural humility mean to you?

In this time when the U. S. population has increased its awareness of cultural differences and bias, college students and educators need tools to examine power, privilege and stereotyping in creative and engaging ways.  Cultural humility incorporates lifelong commitment to self-evaluation, redressing power imbalances and developing mutually beneficial non-paternalistic partnerships.  More than a concept, cultural humility is a process of personal & communal reflection to analyze the root causes of suffering and create a broader, more inclusive view of the world.  To practice cultural humility is to maintain a willingness to suspend what we know, or what we think we know, about a person based on generalizations about their culture.

Theater of the Oppressed is a form of popular education that fosters democratic and cooperative forms of interaction among participants. Theater is emphasized not as a spectacle but as an embodied language designed to: 1) analyze and discuss problems of oppression and power; and 2) explore group solutions to these problems. We can develop mindfulness by observing ourselves in action; thus we can amend, adjust and alter our actions to have different impact and to change our world. ​

Goals of this webinar include:

  1. Understanding what Cultural Humility is and why it is needed.
  2. Identify culture beyond what meets the eye (knowledge, belief, art, morals, custom, norms, standards and habits – a system of interdependent thoughts, attitudes, feelings, actions).
  3. Re-frame community, community organizing and social movements – including direct action – as an energy or spiritual set of practices (movement as the energy and organizing as the practice).
  4. Redefine leadership from a multicultural perspective as collaboration between people that requires relationship-building and creativity.
  5. Introduce movement-based expressive arts, such as Theater of the Oppressed, as essential to teaching & learning of Cultural Humility.


About the Presenter

Vivian Chávez is an Associate Professor of Health Education at San Francisco State University.

Rooted in Guatemalan culture and spirituality, Vivian’s scholarship focuses on health, community engagement and movement-based expressive arts.  Her teaching approach explores language, power and privilege to create inclusive relationships fueled by love, solidarity and awareness.  After a decade of work in youth media and child abuse prevention Vivian completed her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Public Health at UC Berkeley with a specialty in Women, Gender & Sexuality.  A storyteller by nature, she co-edited Prevention is Primary: Strategies in Community Wellbeing, co-authored Drop That Knowledge: Youth Radio Stories, translated Media Advocacy into Spanish and produced Cultural Humility: People, Principles & Practices.  Vivian is a certified yoga teacher and Tamalpa practitioner.

About ACMHE Webinars

The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE) is an initiative of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. The ACMHE’s free webinars allow you to view a live presentation online; you can listen to the presenter over your computer speakers, headphones, or VOIP headset, or by dialing in to the audio with your phone. Questions and comments may be submitted to the presenters during the webinar.

We record our webinars and post them for public viewing on after the original airdate.

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