Each month, I write a blog post related to intercultural learning in higher education. Choosing the topic has never been as easy or obvious as it was this month. But no topic has ever been more challenging or uncomfortable for me to write about.
I was born, raised, and currently live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area in Minnesota, less than 15 miles from where George Floyd, an African-American, was recently killed by a White police officer.
As a White person who grew up surrounded mostly by people who looked a lot like me, I did not engage in many conversations about race when I was young. I’ve learned a lot since then, largely through my own intercultural work, and can now look back and recognize my obliviousness to the role race played in my life as a type of privilege. And yet, I admit I still struggle and feel some discomfort speaking about race on such a public platform, even though I know how important it is to do so.
But as an interculturalist, I recognize...
We are all living with a lot of uncertainty right now. International educators are not only dealing with uncertainty in their own lives, but also in the lives of their students. Will students be able to travel abroad in the fall? Will programs need to be shortened? Start dates delayed? Will international students be able to get visas to come to our school? Will they decide not to enroll?
So many unknowns! For us, and our students.
Global mobility might be cancelled or on hold for the time being. But intercultural learning doesn’t have to be!
In fact, I would argue that intentionally focusing on developing intercultural competence is more important now than ever. Previously, we may have been able to move students around the world and hope that such experiences would lead to deep intercultural learning (if you’ve followed me for more than a minute you know that’s not necessarily a given). But now we have to come up with other ways.
Furthermore, as I’ve...
A lot has happened in the world since I wrote my last blog post a month ago, when most colleges and universities were just beginning to consider how to respond to the spreading Coronavirus. Now, most schools have moved instruction and services online. Study abroad programs have been cancelled and students sent home, and many international exchange organizations have laid off hundreds of employees.
Worldwide, people are facing significant hardship and loss, as well as dealing with incredible uncertainty. Most of us are experiencing a wide range of fluctuating emotions, many of them contradictory.
For me personally, this all feels very heavy right now. And yet I’m also feeling hopeful. In this post, I want to acknowledge and make space for the heaviness, while also sharing with you the reasons behind my hopefulness.
An Opportunity to Create a New “Normal”
Lately I’ve heard a lot of references to “when things are back to normal.” Frankly, I don’t...
COVID-19: It’s seriously upsetting the international education field, and higher education in general (not to mention other sectors). I know many of you are working overtime and grappling with very difficult decisions that impact a lot of people in serious ways. Do we cancel our study abroad programs? Relocate students? Restrict faculty and staff travel? Or even close our doors and move all courses online?
That’s why, in this blog post, I want to talk about something that may seem only tangentially related to intercultural learning for many of you, but is a fundamental aspect of it, in my opinion: self-care.
Intercultural experiences are all about engaging with the unknown and pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone. Doing difficult things. In order to learn, grow, and make the most of such experiences, it’s fundamental to take care of ourselves so we have the energy to engage in these ways.
Whether we’re crossing cultures, or engaging ambiguity...
In my work helping higher education faculty and staff foster greater intercultural learning, I frequently use an assessment tool known as the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). As a result, I get asked a lot of questions about this tool, especially around why and how I use it.
The goal of this blog post is to address those questions.
What is the IDI?
The Intercultural Development Inventory was originally created by Mitch Hammer and Milton Bennett, based on Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS). That model has since been revised based on research using the IDI, and is now known as the Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC). The IDI is currently owned and managed by Mitch Hammer of IDI LLC.
The IDI is a 50-question online assessment. It’s considered a cross-culturally generalizable, valid and reliable measure of intercultural competence that does not contain cultural bias. It’s been tested and used extensively with a...
2019 was a year of purposeful experimentation at True North Intercultural.
I started this company in 2016, providing intercultural consulting and training services to institutions of higher education. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what’s most effective in helping institutions achieve their intercultural learning goals. I’ve also learned what my own strengths are—intercultural training and coaching—and the magic that can happen when we work within our strengths. As a result, I've honed in on creating high-impact professional development programs that empower educators to more effectively foster intercultural learning. And I’ve learned a lot in the process.
In this (longer than usual) post, I’d like to share some of the highlights of 2019, what I’ve learned, and what the plans are for 2020.
We served a LOT of people. And they are doing amazing things! Through on-campus workshops, one-on-one coaching,...
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.
UNDERSTANDING THE TERMINOLOGY
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.
Next week, many colleges and universities will be celebrating International Education Week. Is your institution or organization doing anything special? If so, what? Would you classify any of it as being focused on intercultural learning? Why or why not?
What do you see as the relationship between international education and intercultural learning? Unsure? Do you see them as one and the same? Or is one the responsibility of student services, and the while the other falls within academic affairs?
I spent years working in the field of international education—first international student services and then study abroad. I pursued a PhD and “niched down” to focus on the process of developing intercultural competence through international education experiences (what I often refer to simply as “intercultural learning”). Now I focus on intercultural learning both inside and outside international education.
But I’ve noticed that there is very little...
Above (from top left, clockwise): Darla Deardorff, Kris Acheson-Clair, Dawn Whitehead, Hazel Symonette, Mick Vande Berg, Terrrence Harewood, Beth Zemsky, Leigh Stanfield, Amer Ahmed, my empty chair, Chuck Calahan. Also present, but not pictured: Annette Benson, Allan Bird, Chris Cartwright, Joenita Paulrajan.
Wow, my September was busy! One of the things I had the pleasure of doing was spending two days at an Intercultural Learning Leadership Retreat, organized by Purdue University’s Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment & Research (CILMAR).
CILMAR brought together a diverse group of intercultural educators to brainstorm about the future of professional development related to intercultural learning in higher education, and we enjoyed a lively discussion (and good company).
Although next steps have not yet been determined, I would like to share here three themes that stood out over the course of our two days together.
#1: The importance of deep...
As the academic year begins for most of us, I want to ask: what are your professional development plans for the year?
And what is your institution doing this year to build intercultural capacity among faculty and staff, those who are most responsible for shaping the experience students have at your school?
At the risk of inciting some controversy, I want to strongly suggest thinking beyond standard professional development conferences. Don’t get me wrong—conferences are great for many things.
But if your goal is to develop intercultural capacity at your school or organization, conferences are not the best investment of professional development funds or time.
Here’s what conferences are great for:
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