How to Get Professional Development Funding

Dec 03, 2019
How to Get Professional Development Funding

In case you haven’t heard, True North Intercultural is now accepting applications for the (recently renamed) signature program, Facilitating Intercultural Learning. As a result, I’ve recently had a number of conversations with educators about how to secure funding for this type of professional development.

In this blog post, I’d like to share some tips in case you too are interested in developing your capacity as an intercultural educator, and need some talking points to help you get the necessary support and funding.


Many people (and institutions) use phrases like ‘intercultural learning’ without necessarily defining what they mean. Below are a few key definitions that will help you explain what you’ll be learning through this program and how it will benefit others as well.

Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate and act appropriately and effectively across cultural differences.

Intercultural learning entails developing one’s intercultural competence. It involves much more than learning about other cultures. It is about developing transferable skills that can be used in a wide variety of situations (at home and abroad) in which we are interacting with people who may have different perspectives or ways of seeing the world than we do.


Investing in this kind of professional development will help your institution practice what it preaches. Is a commitment to intercultural learning, global competence, or something similar included in your mission statement or strategic plan? If so, how does your institution support that mission? Know what language your institution uses and be sure you use those same words. Explain that investing in your development in this area will directly support this mission and demonstrate that the institution is practicing what it preaches.

Emphasize the importance of enhancing the quality of intercultural learning experiences, not just the quantity. What is your institution currently doing to promote intercultural learning? Chances are, the focus is on increasing study abroad participation and/or international student enrollments. The assumption is that intercultural contact or immersion leads to intercultural learning and development. But research demonstrates that’s not the case! What it does demonstrate is that intentional facilitation is needed for students to develop their intercultural competence through such experiences. So, if your institution focuses on increasing participation in educational exchange, emphasize that by developing your own intercultural competence and ability to facilitate students’ intercultural learning, you can help ensure that those experiences actually achieve the desired objectives.

This is professional development focused on maximizing learning and growth. Where are your professional development funds currently going? Toward conference attendance? Conferences can be great networking and learning opportunities. But let’s face it, how much can you learn in a bunch of back-to-back hour-long sessions? And how much of that budget is going toward travel expenses? This program is twelve weeks of professional and person development and growth, on a deep level, that will also significantly impact the learning and growth of your students and/or colleagues. You will be regularly applying your learning on the job over the course of the twelve weeks, as well as long after the program is complete.

This is learning with a significant ripple effect. It’s not just about your learning and growth, but that of your students and colleagues as well. The whole point of this program is to help you help others learn interculturally. In this program, you actually develop a plan to incorporate intercultural learning into a program, course, or similar that you lead/teach; many participants start by designing and facilitating an intercultural training for their colleagues. So funding an individual to participate in this program has significant ripple effects on others’ learning and development. If you have an idea of an aspect of your work where you'd first like to integrate intercultural learning—maybe a student orientation, study abroad program, course you teach, or an training you could facilitate for your colleagues—be sure to share that with whoever you’re speaking to in order to help them understand who this will immediately impact besides yourself.


When looking to secure funding, think beyond your office or department. If intercultural learning or something similar is in your institution’s strategic plan, how and where is this being supported financially? Are there funds anywhere that are specifically used to support the achievement of that goal? Centers for Teaching and Learning are a great place to look for support.


In summary, the following points can be especially important to emphasize when seeking funding for professional development such as the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program:

  • Intercultural learning involves much more than learning about other cultures.
  • It’s about developing transferable skills.
  • Intercultural competence is a skill that’s applicable and important even for people who never plan to go abroad.
  • Most students will not develop their intercultural competence simply by interacting with people from different backgrounds or even immersing themselves in other cultures.
  • Having educators who know how to effectively facilitate students’ intercultural learning is key.
  • By enrolling in this program, you will gain knowledge, skills, and understanding that will help you foster intercultural learning among students, faculty, and staff at your institution.


I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve managed to secure funding for this type of professional development, or are someone who makes decisions about the allocation of such funds. What recommendations do you have about securing professional development funds for intercultural capacity building? Share your ideas, suggestions, and experiences in the comments section below!


For a summary of the research that indicates exposure to and even immersion in another culture do not automatically lead to intercultural learning, and that supports the importance of intentional facilitation, check out the following book:  Student Learning Abroad

For more information about the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program, click here.

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.