The Bridging of Cultures
Race is an invention of the mind as are all ideas good and bad. It was invented in a time and context when people were much less aware of themselves than they are now. As a matter of fact, in the 200 years since the US census first came about in the United States, 26 racial categories have been used to classify and label the 2-3 hundred million people who live in this narrow part of the world.
Race as a concept, as in an idea and a way to declare a peoples’ wholeness as clearly inadequate and confusing as we seek together to know ourselves and each other.
Cultural Education is the way by which we can more efficiently be ourselves. This kind of education is called “Knowledge of Self’ or Know thy Self. The Phrase is ancient and was originally found over the doors of temples of learning and study in ancient Kemet, the young initiates we taught “Know thyself” the key to wisdom.
The human predicament is calling toward cultural disarmament.
Culture (as symbol) is then no longer a conceptual jail that separates but what harmonizes and unites the levels of freedom and loyalty.
Every culture has an experience and its own interpretations.
Fundamentally we are not trying to gain a new definition of a notion of Culture. It is not a semantic or even an academic question. On the contrary we are trying to account for a deep new cultural experience which is now emerging and is at play in our own pluralistic world.
Bringing different cultural knowledge systems together
Part of the work is in restoring the linkages between cultural communities and institutions, and learning how to bring community knowledge and institutional knowledge together. To be effective, communities and their institutional partners must continually identify, utilize, and nurture the essential elements where old and emerging philosophies intersect.
Why I Study at The Cultural Wellness Center
Although I work at the University of Minnesota doing research, teaching and outreach, I study as a Fellow and Elder at the Cultural Wellness Center. Why? The CWC is a place where I feel I can bring and express my fullest self as a human being. This is not the case in most professional settings where winning, being in control, saving face, posturing and distancing oneself are not only common, but deeply habituated routines. Maintaining one’s image, credibility, professional reputation are major factors driving much of the thinking, agenda, decisions and actions of many an academic professional. This is not why I entered academic life.
Research universities are incredibly rich environments, a place where knowledge is shared and minds are stimulated. But the underlying culture bringing cohesion and continuity on one hand also confines and constrains, excluding much human knowledge, understanding and wisdom on the other. So much humanity is lost in the competitive push for individual achievement. We often fail to notice what erodes over time. This is sad in many ways.
At research universities, we tend not to study our inner life. As scientists, we are often not conscious of our highly conditioned states of mind. We seldom see, much less study ourselves as cultural beings. We seldom direct critical thinking toward our inner world of implicit narratives and commitments that govern our behavior. We seldom examine our interpretation of science as a process wherein we isolate ourselves from phenomena, wherein only material, observable phenomena are considered worthy of our attention. Because these subconscious commitments go unexamined, they continue with a force that exerts a powerful hold on the scientific mind, as well as the developing minds of our young students. This contributes to an inertia that denies or dismisses any human knowledge that might come from beyond these presumptions.
At the CWC, I learn to capture knowledge and learning generated in the moment. I learn to tap into intelligence of the heart. I learn from cultural self-study as I more fully develop myself as a human being. These dimensions of my humanity had been left unattended, eroding over time within narrow, disciplinary constraints. At the CWC, we interact and interface with one another respectful of all dimensions of our humanity, with a priority on experience that reaches into the soul. I study my identity, refine my purpose, regain my soul as I connect with community and learn to bring my full self to life’s work. The CWC breathes life into my being. CWC supports me in having the personal strength and community support to create institutional change so much needed at our research universities. I am so grateful for this relationship.
Craig A. Hassel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, Food and Nutrition Department of Food Science & Nutrition
University of Minnesota
Fellow, Cultural Wellness Center
Elder, Healing Roots Community