4 Ways to Build Intercultural Capacity Among Faculty & Staff

Jan 09, 2024
two individuals talking at a table

Are you looking to build intercultural capacity among faculty and staff at your institution this year, but unsure how? In this post, I outline four different ways colleges, universities, and higher education organizations are using True North Intercultural’s signature program, Facilitating Intercultural Learning, to support educators’ development. By doing so, I hope to help you think creatively about how you could utilize this highly-rated program to help your institution meet its intercultural learning goals.

Facilitating Intercultural Learning is a twelve-week online learning experience that helps higher education faculty and staff: (1) develop their own intercultural competence, and (2) learn how to design and facilitate intercultural learning, so they can be more inclusive educators and integrate intercultural learning into courses, programming, or other areas of their work. This train-the-trainer program is typically offered every fall and spring semester. The Spring 2024 session starts February 6th and is now enrolling. Information about the program and upcoming dates can always be found on the program website

1. Share program information with faculty and staff as a resource.

Do you work with faculty or staff who might be interested in or benefit from integrating intercultural learning into their work? If so, share information about the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program with them. You could email specific people who come to mind, post program details on your website as a resource, or share the information with offices that curate such a list of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff at your institution.

For example, many international education offices and centers for teaching and learning would love to provide this type of professional development to faculty or staff but don’t have the resources to do so themselves. Sharing information about Facilitating Intercultural Learning (as well as our online introductory course, Navigating Cultural Differences) is a great alternative!

>> You can find language about the program to post on your website or email to colleagues by clicking here.

“I completely reworked my course in intercultural communication for students after attending your course which was brilliant in so many ways! Thank you, Tara, for being an excellent facilitator and teacher!”

- Gunnar Furseth Klinge
Head of International Affairs,
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN University)

2. Enroll a group of colleagues.

Are you working with colleagues to create a new course or update a current program? Rethinking your department’s curriculum? Serving on a DEI committee, working in an international office, or otherwise involved in a team that’s responsible for advancing intercultural learning or fostering inclusivity? Participating in Facilitating Intercultural Learning with a group of colleagues helps you develop shared language and frameworks for approaching intercultural learning and teaching in more intentional and coordinated ways.

We’ve also had cross-disciplinary and cross-campus groups from the same institution participate together, which can foster relationships and intercultural collaborations that likely never would have happened otherwise.

In addition, when three or more individuals from the same institution enroll together, you qualify for a discounted group rate.

"The work I did with you and my cohort has helped immensely in how we support cultural learning in our faculty-led programs, as well as supporting faculty to incorporate global learning into virtual classrooms (and COIL exchanges). Unexpectedly, the experience helped me to become a much better manager with my team."

- Matthew Walters
International Center Director,
Cal Poly Pomona

3. Create an ongoing Fellowship or similar opportunity.

Several universities partner with True North Intercultural to offer Facilitating Intercultural Learning as a professional development opportunity to a select group of educators on a regular basis (each semester or yearly).

For example, Purdue University runs a faculty and staff mentorship program called Growing Intercultural Leaders (GIL). Individuals must apply and be selected to participate. As part of that professional development experience, GIL Scholars participate in the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program.

Other institutions have created Fellowships or similar around the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program. Interested faculty and/or staff are invited to apply to the coordinating office, and those who are selected receive support and recognition from the institution for participating in the program. You can read more about one such case study here.

“The intercultural experts at CILMAR here at Purdue University think so highly of Tara's course that we've actually covered the cost of participation for individuals selected as part of our Growing Intercultural Leaders faculty-staff development program. Yes, we could teach it ourselves, but the benefits of interacting with like-minded folks across institutional type and location are enormous.” 

- Katherine Yngve, Ph.D.
Assessment Specialist, Equitable & Intercultural Learning
Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment & Research (CILMAR),
Purdue University

4. Run a private cohort tailored to the needs of your group.

While True North Intercultural currently offers Facilitating Intercultural Learning publicly twice per year, institutions also have the option to contract a private cohort for groups of approximately ten or more educators. Advantages are that aspects of the program can be tailored to the group’s specific needs or context, dates and times are more flexible, and there may be significant cost savings depending on the size of the group.

For example, the health sciences faculty at one university were requesting further professional development to help them effectively teach, train, and prepare students to navigate the many dimensions of culture they’d encounter when working in the health sciences field. The department partnered with True North Intercultural to offer a private cohort for their faculty, which allowed us to focus conversations during the asynchronous group coaching calls specifically on how participants could incorporate what they were learning into their health sciences courses. (Another benefit was that the group coaching calls were scheduled for a block of time during the day when none of the faculty had teaching obligations.)


There are many different ways to start building intercultural capacity among faculty and staff in higher education, and no one-size-fits all. As we’ve seen, the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program can be used in a variety of ways to meet the needs of different institutions and situations. If your institution or department is looking to build intercultural capacity, schedule a strategy call with me to discuss your goals and explore how True North Intercultural could best support you. You can also learn more about Facilitating Intercultural Learning on the program website.

Photo credit: Amy Hirschi, Unsplash 

Join the Conversation!

Enjoying the blog? You’re invited to join me and an amazing group of higher education professionals committed to fostering intercultural learning at the next Intercultural Leadership Forum! You'll have a chance to connect with others doing this work and gain new insights as you move toward your intercultural goals.