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Culture of Care with Jonathan Ishoy

July 20, 2020


Jonathan Ishoy HeadshotI had recently read a quote by Alexander Den Heijer that “when a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower” and thought of how much the cultural environment that I participate in influences myself and others. Individual health and diligence is important to acknowledge, and it is also important to acknowledge how a nurturing environment that emphasizes compassion and empathy, a culture of care, may further support our faculty, staff, and students to grow and develop. The health and wellbeing of our environment is determined by our ability to provide this care. The care we give and that is provided by from others helps to sustain and reinforce resilience and academic performance.

One of the things that can often get in the way of a culture of care is an excessive feeling of pressure, especially external pressure, to perform. When we are in a culture of being constantly evaluated and our worth is determined by our productivity output, that hinders our ability to be resilient and highly achieving. Productivity and personal achievement are important, but we must not put the cart before the horse. As the environment and culture emphasizes a “do more” attitude and places the burden of growth entirely on the individual, at the expense of care, we experience diminishing marginal utility. The more we are expected to go beyond what we may reasonably accomplish, the more stressed, anxious, depressed we feel and the less time we have to care about our own wellbeing and one another. A decrease in care and utility becomes expressed as an increase in physical and mental health concerns, a decrease in academic performance, and lesser life satisfaction.

A culture of care recognizes the need for balance in life. In balance with our productivity we need to meet our basic needs like food, water, and sleep. We need to feel safe and secure within our environment regardless of race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. We need healthy social relationships to establish a sense of belonging. Finding balance and meeting these needs helps in facilitating learning and achievement. Looking toward the future and wrestling with all the challenges that we face it becomes increasingly salient how important it is as a community to come together and care. It is my hope that as we more emphasize a culture of care that we may better support and serve one another in achieving our goals as faculty, staff, and students.

Jonathan Ishoy, Purdue CAPS Staff Therapist


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