New Online Course: Navigating Cultural Differences!

Nov 09, 2020

I’m very excited to announce the launch of a new True North Intercultural offering—one that’s been well over a year in the making! Navigating Cultural Differences is a self-paced online course for higher education faculty and staff who want to develop their intercultural competence and create more inclusive classrooms, campuses, and communities.

I have wanted, for a very long time, to offer a more accessible online intercultural course for educators. When I started on the journey, however, I never could have anticipated just how critical it would come to be. It is clearly evident to me that greater intercultural competence is needed to help address the divisiveness and injustices in our world today.

This course has been a long time in the making because I knew that to achieve wide accessibility, it would need to be largely self-paced. I was skeptical such a training could be created that would achieve the kind of objectives I’m committed to. Because I feel very strongly that intercultural learning needs to be experiential, constructivist, and developmental. I pride myself on the fact that my trainings entail much more than learning about culture, intercultural concepts, or cultural differences. They are, in a sense, a type of personal development that helps us show up better in a diverse, globalized world.

However, I’ve learned through experience to closely examine my assumptions, and to ask better questions, especially when I feel skeptical. As an interculturalist, I try to think in terms of “both/and” rather than “either/or.” Once upon a time I was skeptical about whether I could move the impactful train-the-trainer work I was doing online, but when I forced myself to stop questioning whether it could be done and instead focus on how to do it in a way that I could be proud of, the results surprised even me.

So, instead of questioning whether or not I could create a meaningful intercultural learning experience at an accessible price point, I instead began exploring how it could be done.

The Evolution of this Course

I am a big fan of trying things out, reflecting on what I can learn from the experience, and then iterating. So in the summer of 2019, I piloted True North Intercultural’s first self-paced online course—Introduction to Intercultural Learning & Teaching. The feedback from participants was excellent, but I realized through that experience that the train-the-trainer approach was too much for a self-paced course. Including the facilitation element took focus away from participants’ own intercultural development, which is critical.

At the same time, I was having a lot of conversations with higher education leaders that revealed a growing recognition of the need for intercultural training for all faculty and staff, not just those most directly responsible for facilitating students’ intercultural learning.

And so, my goal became to create an online course for educators that would help them develop their own intercultural competence and become more inclusive educators. It had to meet the following criteria:

It had to be…

  • Accessible in both format and price
  • Impactful, deep learning
  • Practical & useful

Introducing Navigating Cultural Differences

The result is Navigating Cultural Differences, a self-paced online course meant to support the intercultural development of higher education faculty and staff, so that they can create more inclusive classrooms, campuses, and communities.

Here is how the course addresses the criteria I set out for myself:

Accessible, in both price and format. Navigating Cultural Differences is a self-paced course, which means you can go through the materials when convenient and at the pace that works best for you. This format allows me to keep the price relatively low, similar to the cost of a pre-conference workshop (while, in my opinion, providing more depth and value than a one-day workshop).

The course is structured in such a way that you are encouraged to go through one module per week over a six-week period. This is done to avoid overwhelm and support immediate application of your learning. But you have total flexibility as to how and when you engage apart from that, and you have access to the course for a full year.

Impactful, deep learning. There is a lot of information available—on the web, in books, etc.—about intercultural concepts and theories. But knowledge is just one small aspect of developing one’s intercultural competence. In my opinion, a lot of what’s out there focuses on a very small slice of what intercultural learning entails, and is not developmental.

I was only willing to offer a self-paced online course if and when I felt I had created something that could truly help educators not only further their own intercultural development, but also empower them with tools and processes that would help them continue their learning journey after the conclusion of the course.

This means that participants in Navigating Cultural Differences should not expect to simply consume content by watching videos or reading articles, which brings me to my next point

Practical & useful. My goal was to create a course that would be useful, practical and relevant to the higher education context, so educators can literally start using what they are learning in their work and lives from day one.

The course includes offline activities that ask you to reflect on and analyze your own personal experiences. You’ll also learn processes and practices that you can integrate into your life to be a more inclusive educator. This means that to make the most of the experience, you will need to actively engage with the materials—be willing to self-reflect and practice using the tools and processes you learn in the course.

Course Learning Objectives

Educators who actively participate in this course will:

  • gain a deeper understanding of concepts such as culture and intercultural competence, and how these impact you and your work
  • increase awareness and understanding of your own characteristic ways of making meaning and acting in familiar and unfamiliar contexts, particularly in your role as an educator
  • increase awareness and understanding of how people from different cultural backgrounds may make meaning and act in familiar and unfamiliar contexts
  • become familiar with the importance of responding mindfully in contexts that disorient or challenge us, and learn strategies/processes to help you do so
  • learn tools and processes that can help you begin to bridge cultural differences you may experience in your work as an educator

Registration Information

Navigating Cultural Differences is open for enrollment as of today! To celebrate, I am offering a special BONUS to anyone who registers during the first week (by Friday, November 13th)—two live group coaching calls with me!

If you are an educator who would like to improve your ability to appropriately and effectively navigate cultural differences, and create inclusive environments where all students can thrive, the Navigating Cultural Differences online course is for you!

For more information about the course and to register, click here.

In addition, there are various options for teams that want to go through Navigating Cultural Differences together or institutions looking to offer this professional development opportunity to larger groups of educators to increase intercultural capacity. Click here for more information.

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.