A New Approach to Cultural Sensitivity: Using Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions in your Online Courses
Abstract: Traditionally, we have viewed cultural dimensions in the form of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and national background. And likewise, we have identified our own cultural backgrounds from such descriptors. However, there is much more to our cultures than these few qualifiers. In the last few decades, Geert Hofstede has developed six cultural dimensions that transcend all of these seemingly "surface" descriptors. In fact, Hofstede's cultural dimensions dig much deeper than these traditional features and seek to pinpoint cultural norms in terms of how we view such concepts as prioritizing personal needs and goals, how comfortable we are with making changes to the way we work and live, and how we view time--just to name a few. When we view culture from this perspective, rather than just looking at someone and making snap judgments based on their skin color, religion, or sexual orientation, we can begin to have a deeper understanding of "where someone is coming from" and how he or she truly views the world. And, when we use Hofstede's method in our online classes, rather than just making these traditional superficial assumptions, we can get to know our students on a whole new level and can truly engage them, both with us and their peers and also in the subject matter in which we teach.