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Through our work with nonprofit organizations, grantmakers, movement networks, and other partners in the field, we have had the opportunity to work collaboratively with people deeply engaged in advancing love, dignity, and justice. Through these partnerships, we are getting increasingly clear that both deep and wide-scale change is found in the interconnected practices that weave together a set of five elements.

  • Advancing Deep Equity
  • Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems
  • Valuing Multiple Ways of Knowing
  • Influencing Complex Systems Change
  • Creating the Space for Inner Work

We first shared approaches and practices for embracing these elements through a series of articles published in the Nonprofit Quarterly where we looked at each element separately. The five articles in the series present each element in turn, exploring what it means and how people, organizations, and networks are putting it into practice.

Multiple Ways of Knowing: Expanding How We Know by Elissa Sloan Perry and Aja Couchois Duncan is the third article in the series.

There is a strong bias in the U.S. dominant culture, which shows up in the nonprofit sector as well, to value only one way of knowing—a knowing grounded in data, analysis, logic, theory, a rationalist approach to truth. There are many different ways to understand and engage with the world – including through your experiences, through art, and through ancestral wisdom. Privileging one way of knowing over others marginalizes and ignores truths that come from other ways of knowing. As a result, our theories and action plans are often disconnected from our values, beliefs and the bedrock experiences of our lives.

Read Multiple Ways of Knowing: Expanding How We Know, published by the Nonprofit Quarterly.