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Reflections on Intercultural Learning & Teaching

Lessons Learned from Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning

best practices Aug 27, 2018

In this fifth and final post in a series highlighting how different institutions are supporting intercultural learning, we examine some of the themes and lessons learned from these institutional spotlights.

If you haven’t yet read the previous posts in this series, I’d encourage you to do so before you continue reading (but if you seriously just want the Cliff Notes, I understand; I wrote this post especially for you):


The following are some of the key lessons we can learn from these institutions:


The importance of supporting faculty and staff’s intercultural learning.
Augsburg, Purdue, and Taylor are all focused on developing the intercultural capacity of faculty and staff, and have shown that doing so can have direct, positive impacts on students’ intercultural learning.

In the Wofford example, we saw how participating in...

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Spotlight on Wofford College’s Intercultural Living & Learning Community

best practices Jul 24, 2018
This post is the fourth in a series highlighting how different institutions are supporting intercultural learning. While previous posts have looked at institution-wide approaches, this one discusses one particular project—an intercultural living and learning community—developed by two professors at Wofford College, an independent liberal arts school with approximately 1,700 students in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
 
At Wofford, first-year students can choose to participate in a living and learning community (LLC), which means they live together while taking two classes linked by a common theme. In Fall of 2017, professors Dan Mathewson and Britt Newman, who teach religion and Spanish respectively, teamed up to offer an intercultural-themed LLC, and invited me to partner with them in the process.
 
Origins of the Intercultural Living & Learning Community
 
Mathewson has taught an introductory religion course at Wofford for many years and is always...
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Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning Series: Spotlight on Taylor University

best practices May 21, 2018
This is the third post in a series highlighting how different institutions are supporting intercultural learning. This month, the spotlight is on Taylor University, a non-denominational Christian liberal arts college in rural Upland, Indiana, with just under 2,000 students.
 
According to the university’s website, approximately 80% of students have an overseas experience while at Taylor. Short-term faculty-led programs are growing rapidly, with Taylor sending about 15% of the entire student population on such programs (referred to as “global engagement experiences” at Taylor) each January the past few years.
 
For that reason, Dr. Charlie Brainer, Associate Dean of International Programs, explains, “Increasing faculty intercultural learning and expertise in leading student groups abroad is vital to our efforts.” In early 2017, Brainer reached out to me about partnering with True North Intercultural to build the intercultural capacity of...
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Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning Series: Spotlight on Purdue University

best practices Apr 22, 2018
I often get asked by educators, “What are other schools doing to foster intercultural learning?” So I’m answering this question with a blog series highlighting several institutional approaches to intercultural learning.
 
For background on how I’m defining intercultural learning (hint: it’s about much more than learning about other cultures), see last month’s post, which featured Augsburg University, a smaller, private school in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
 
This month, the spotlight is on Purdue University, a state school with more than 40,000 students in West Lafayette, Indiana.
 
A Focus on Developing Intercultural Competence at Home and Abroad
 
In late 2011, Dr. Charles Calahan, then a faculty member at Purdue, was asked to take on a new position that would focus on developing intercultural competency both on campus and through more intentional, targeted study abroad efforts.
 
Calahan, whose title is now Assistant...
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Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning Series: Spotlight on Augsburg University

best practices Mar 19, 2018
I often get asked by educators, “What are other schools doing to foster intercultural learning?” So I’ve decided to answer this question with a blog series highlighting several institutional approaches to intercultural learning. In this month’s post—the first in the series—the spotlight is on Augsburg University.
 
Defining Intercultural Learning
 
First, let’s define intercultural learning, an often-misunderstood concept. Intercultural learning involves developing one’s intercultural competence. Intercultural competence can be defined as the ability to communicate and act appropriately and effectively across cultural differences. Effectively means we achieve our aims. Appropriately means we do so in such a way that any other parties involved feel respected.
 
Learning about other cultures is not the same as intercultural learning. Ideally, as one develops their intercultural...
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