Cultural Responsiveness

What is Cultural Responsiveness in Higher Education?

Cultural responsiveness and cultural relevance are concepts and tenants central to our work with leaders across educational settings. As a College of Education and Human Development, we believe that professionals who are aware of their own identities, privileges and biases have a critical framework for examining factors related to racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, and ableism in terms of political history, power, stereotyped perceptions and practices across society, groups, and among individuals. Such a framework guides leaders’ work with multiple and varied constituents in a diverse, 21st century democratic society.

What is Cultural Responsiveness in K-12 Teaching

Belize classroom

Culturally responsive pedagogies are grounded in Gay's (2000) assertion that the academic achievement and educational opportunities of students from racially, culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse (RCELD) backgrounds improve when educators ensure that classroom instruction is responsive and reflective of students' home and life cultures. Teaching that is culturally responsive is described as a continuum of behaviors and beliefs that serve to empower students to critically examine both educational content and processes by using students' cultures to create meaning and help them understand the world. From this perspective, teachers emphasize academic success along with social and cultural success and consider the appropriateness and effectiveness of both the curriculum and pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1992; Vavrus, 2002).

Additional Resources on Cultural Responsiveness

International Outreach

The CEHD hosts the International Teaching Experience Belize every year in April. Students participate in an life-changing experience of working with and learning from students and teachers in the country of Belize. To learn more and register for the next trip, go to

In addition, the Department of Educational Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education begun an international study program in Panama for the Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development program.

We are currently working to expand to other countries around the world as global outreach is one of our top priorities in education.

Professional Learning

The College of Education and Human Development will be co-hosting several events during 2014. Stay tuned for further information about Dr. Pedro Noguera's visit to UofL and CEHD this February!

CEHD Grawemeyer Award in Education

The UofL Grawemeyer Award in Education is intended to stimulate the dissemination and public scrutiny of ideas that have potential to bring about significant change and improvement in educational practice and advances in educational attainment. Many great teachers and researchers in the field of education have been chosen to receive this award. For example, Linda Darling-Hammond, James Comer, and collaborators Edward Zigler, Walter Gilliam, and Stephanie Jones are just a few of the outstanding winners chosen for their contributions their fields.

grawemeyer medal

The 2014 award winner is Diane Ravitch, for her book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education." Her work chronicles her decades-long journey from reform advocate to critic and encourages a return to school curricula that value art, literature, creativity and problem solving.

Educators from around the world come to Finland every year to learn about their highly successful school system, and are often surprised to find that elementary-level students have a four-hour day, do little homework, rarely take tests, and don't start school until the age of seven. Ensuring the same opportunities for all students and showing a high regard for the teaching profession also transformed Finland's school system from mediocre into one of the world's finest.