My name is Tara Harvey. I founded True North Intercultural in 2016, because my personal and professional experience, along with extensive study and research, have convinced me that:

  • Intercultural experiences offer amazing opportunities for learning and growth.
  • BUT (and this is a big but) intercultural contact, experience, or even immersion do not automatically or consistently lead to the positive outcomes many people seem to take for granted.
  • In fact, contact with people who are different from us has the potential to reinforce stereotypes, and lead to division, conflict, or worse.
  • Our educational systems and institutions have an obligation to teach students to engage effectively and appropriately with people who are different from them.
  • This means educators need to be able to intentionally and skillfully facilitate students’ intercultural learning—inside and outside the classroom and across all disciplines.
  • Almost no educators have been trained to do that (and intercultural experience rarely translates into intercultural facilitation skills).
  • Integrating intercultural learning into the fabric of higher education is possible if we help educators develop their own intercultural competence and empower them with the skills to facilitate intercultural learning.
  • Developing our own and others’ intercultural competence is extremely rewarding and transformative.

What is Intercultural Learning?

Unfamiliar with these terms or just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing? Check out this short video, where I briefly discuss what I mean when using terms like culture, intercultural learning, and intercultural competence.


About Tara Harvey, Ph.D.

I am an educator and life-long learner at heart. I am passionate about helping people learn and grow through intercultural experiences, locally and globally.

I began working in the international education field in 2000—teaching English in Spain, advising international students in the United States (at Texas A&M University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison), and working in study abroad.

In 2006, I began Ph.D. studies, focusing specifically on how intercultural competence is developed and how educators can facilitate that process. My dissertation—a mixed-methods case study of an intercultural seminar taught during a semester-long study abroad experience—looked not only at the outcomes of such an intervention, but was the first of its kind to examine the complex process of facilitating intercultural development. At the University of Minnesota, I taught two innovative intercultural courses. The first—which began as Maximizing Study Abroad and later became Global Identity—was an online course for students studying abroad. The second, entitled Communication and the Intercultural Re-Entry, was for students with a significant intercultural experience (such as study abroad, refugee and immigrant experiences, the military, and more). 
As Academic Director of Intercultural Learning at CIEE (the Council on International Educational Exchange)—a world leader in international education and exchange—I was responsible for developing the intercultural curricula for their diverse study abroad programs. I created CIEE’s signature course, Intercultural Communication and Leadership, now offered at more than 20 study centers around the world. Under my leadership, CIEE also integrated intercultural learning frameworks into more than half of the semester-long programs, summer programs, and many short-term customized programs. In addition to designing curriculum, I provided training, coaching, and support for the resident staff around the world teaching these initiatives.

I am an experienced Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)—one of the most well-known and widely-used tools for assessing and building intercultural competence—as well as an IDI Qualifying Seminar Instructor. In addition, I am a Senior Facilitator of the Personal Leadership methodology, a holistic approach to maximizing the learning potential inherent in intercultural experiences, improving one’s ability to work across cultural difference, and taking leadership of oneself.

Previously, I served as Adjunct Faculty in Intercultural Competence at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey and Associate Faculty at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC). 

On a more personal note, I am married to a Spaniard, whom I met while studying abroad my junior year in Seville, Spain (study abroad truly does change lives!). Together we are doing our best to raise our two kids to be bilingual, interculturally sensitive young people. We live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota, in the United States.

Why the name True North Intercultural?

Why? Because I believe that by developing our intercultural competence, we are doing much more than learning how to interact with culturally different others (a valuable goal in and of itself, of course). We also learn and grow as human beings. Intercultural experiences are opportunities to get in touch with who we are, to identify our deeply held values and beliefs.

My goal is to help people engage in intercultural learning experiences in a way that helps them identify and live in stronger alignment with their own personal values and beliefs—in other words, to follow their own “true north”—while working effectively, appropriately, creatively, and authentically with people who hold different values and beliefs.


Harvey, T.A. (2017). Design and pedagogy for transformative intercultural learning. In B. Kappler Mikk & I. Steglitz (Eds.), Learning across cultures: Locally and globally, (3rd ed., pp. 109-138). Washington, D.C.: NAFSA: Association of International Educators/Stylus.

Paige, R.M., Harvey, T.A., & McCleary, K.S. (2012). The Maximizing Study Abroad Project: Toward a pedagogy for culture and language learning. In M. Vande Berg, R.M. Paige, & K.H. Lou (Eds.), Student learning abroad: What our students are learning, what they're not, and what we can do about it (pp. 308-334). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Harvey, T.A. (2013). Facilitating intercultural development during study abroad: A case study of CIEE’s Seminar on Living and Learning AbroadUnpublished dissertation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

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Ph.D., Comparative and International Development Education
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
M.A., Journalism & Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
M.A., International Relations
Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, Spain
B.S., Communication Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Junior Year Abroad at Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain