• Dr. Kimberly Scott

Kim's Corner: Engaging in culturally responsive collaborations

Many of the pieces in this newsletter describe our most recent achievement--that is, implementing the culturally responsive STEM camp, Girls in Technology (GIT). Yet, understanding how to engage in culturally responsive collaborations to create a program such as GIT is limited. How does an organization, such as CGEST, partner with another institution and follow the same tenets we integrate into our curricula? Culturally responsive computing serves as the bedrock for our programs, but how do we live out its elements of reflection, asset building and connectedness in strategic alliances? From the planning, implementing and researching for GIT with Hawaii Pacific University Partners (HPU), we have learned and/or been reminded of the following:

Culturally responsive collaboration requires that partners identify, engage and appropriately compensate community leaders to co-create culturally responsive computing experiences (Asset Building and Connectedness)

Thus, individual collaborators or their institutions must be respected entities in the community. GIT staff member, Katie Schwind, had developed a positive relationship with Kaleo Hanohano. Kumu Hanohano, a teacher and cultural practitioner with decades of experience, integrated activities and discussions that reaffirmed Indigenous knowledge as ancestral sciences. A grounding force throughout the program, Kumu Kaleo imbued cultural practices and knowledge into the program to connect people, place and spirit through activities and protocols that opened and closed the day with an oli (Hawaiian chant). Importantly, Kumu Kaleo conducted daily events with the girls and invited some of her family to facilitate the activities with her.

7 graduate and undergraduate mentors gather for a group photo at the end of the week long camp
Graduate and undergraduate students mentors from HPU gather for a group photo at the end of the week

All partners in and visitors to a culturally responsive computing program must be open to professional development (Reflection).

Time needs to be spent developing common themes and language. Distinguishing between diversity and inclusion; identifying the significance of analyzing outcomes along multiple, intersecting identity lines (e.g. sexual orientation, race, ethnicity); contextualizing the program; and recognizing how, when, and to what extent proposed activities can shake structural isms are all considerations for culturally responsive collaborations. Weeks ahead of the day girls entered HPU’s campus, we provided a series of professional development workshops to the selected seven mentor teachers and other contributing university faculty. As we prepare for our 2022 camp, we will expand the professional development to include all individuals no matter how great or small their GIT role.

Effective culturally responsive collaborations require a considerable amount of time and thought to build an effective coalition (Reflection and Connectedness).

The global pandemic caused us to postpone the camp by one year. In retrospect, I appreciate the extra time resulting in two years of development. This allowed us to learn about each other and coalesce as a team. Inevitably, mistakes were made and some conflicts occurred. Yet, the countless Zoom meetings, weekly planning sessions, innumerable text messages, and tomes of minutes documenting the three sets of weekly meetings over 24 months provided us time to form a community of practice committed to resolving issues.

As we carefully review the voluminous amount of research and evaluation data to iterate on the Summer 2022 camp, PI Brenda Jensen and I continue to dialogue about our partnership. How to maintain a culturally responsive collaboration among those developing an experience is just as important as the culturally responsive curriculum fostering the activities.

Written by:

Dr. Kimberly Scott

Founder & Executive Director

Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology

Arizona State University