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Exploring the complexities of ‘wokeness’

BUILDers discuss a seminar on wokeness presented by cultural commentator Ayishat Akanbi.

Chetna watching and learning from the seminar

‘Wokeness’ is a term we hear a lot lately. But what is it and is it always good to be ‘woke’?

Many BUILDers have chosen to explore this issue by watching an on-demand seminar by cultural commentator Ayishat Akanbi, from the Sydney Opera House Talks and Ideas archive, listed in BUILD’s Endorsed Seminar electives list.

What drew people to this webinar?

Christine Jardin explained, “I wanted to learn more about what it means to be ‘woke’ and what impact that has on society.”

Jenny Nguyen was intrigued by the title: “from my personal experience the term woke was always a positive thing. However, the title talked about the problem with wokeness, which challenged my views.”

“As a leader and global citizen, it is important to embrace differences rather than search for commonalities.”

What did BUILDers learn from this seminar?

At its best, wokeness encourages us to appreciate other viewpoints.

Here’s Christine again: “Ayishat explains how wokeness starts with compassion, empathy, understanding and being open to perspectives rather than being dismissive.”

But we need to be careful with wokeness. It can promote one point of view and shut down others.

Chetna Sharma (that’s her in the picture!) explained: “wokeness could often shut conversation as people are constrained to a particular way of thinking. Thus, as a leader and global citizen, it is important to embrace differences rather than search for commonalities.”

We should also be wary of cancel culture.

Christine understood that, “we can’t simply cancel those who remind us of our former self, are slightly prejudiced or biased, uninformed or simply ignorant to the situation.”

When someone has an opinion you disagree with, Sheereen Sidiq Ali learnt to appreciate that “we are all in different stages of growth and awareness.”

Watch Intellectual Humility: the Problem with Wokeness here.

Learn more about UTS BUILD and how you can start your global leadership journey

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