NAVIGATING CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
Becoming a More Inclusive Educator
Intercultural competence can no longer be viewed as a ‘nice to have’ skill in our world. It is a ‘need to have.’
We all need to better understand and appreciate the complex cultural differences that exist in the world, and be able to engage effectively and appropriately across these differences.
That means our educational institutions need to get serious about fostering intercultural development. This work must include developing the intercultural competence of faculty, staff, and leaders, not just students.
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!
About Navigating Cultural Differences
Navigating Cultural Differences is an online course for higher education faculty and staff who want to become more interculturally competent educators.
It is a six-module, self-paced course. When you join, you immediately get access to the first module, and a new module becomes available each of the following weeks. The course is structured this way so that you never feel overwhelmed, and can focus each week on integrating what you’re learning into your personal and professional life.
Don’t worry if you fall behind or want to revisit the material later, however—you have access to the course content for a full year.
Each module includes the following:
Engaging video lessons introduce you to new concepts, frameworks, and processes to aid your intercultural development.
Weekly ‘Field Notes’ include activities and reflection questions that help you reflect on and put to use your new learning.
Curated lists of recommended resources in each module make it easy to diver deeper on any topics of particular interest.
Colleges and universities are rich with diversity. Our campuses and classrooms are made up of students of many different nationalities, ethnicities, races, religions, socio-economic statuses, gender identities, abilities, and other cultural backgrounds and life experiences.
But diversity is not enough. You don’t have to look far to see that just being in the vicinity of difference does not make someone more interculturally competent.
To ensure students feel seen and experience true belonging, and to solve the very real issues we face in society today, we need to develop the intercultural competence of our entire institutions and communities.
Most colleges and universities now have mission statements that include the development of intercultural competence, global citizenship, or similar. As a result, more faculty and staff are now also involved with study abroad, COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning), or other types of programs that involve intercultural engagement (face-to-face and virtual).
However, COVID-19 has put international exchange on hold for the time being, which requires us to get more intentional about fostering intercultural development. At the same time, the pandemic, growing movements for racial and social justice, and unprecedented political divisiveness—in the U.S. and other parts of the world—underscore how necessary these skills are on the local level, not just when traveling abroad.
To effectively and appropriately navigate cultural differences at home and abroad, it’s important to understand that culture impacts everything we do. Where we come from (including our country of origin, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, gender identity, abilities, and so much more) influences things such as our communication preferences, how we interpret the world around us, and even our ideas about what a “good education” looks like.
It’s critical that we as educators not only understand where our students (and others we work with) are coming from and how their background and cultural identities impact their experience at our institutions, but also for us to deepen our understanding of how our own cultures influence the way we approach our work and engage with our students.
As a result of participating in this course, you will:
gain a deeper understanding of concepts such as culture and intercultural competence, and how these impact you, your work, and your students
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
Module 1 ~ Introduction to Intercultural Learning
- Discuss key terms, such as culture, intercultural competence, culture-general vs. culture-specific learning, and monocultural vs. intercultural communication.
- Explore why it is critical as educators to focus first and foremost on our own intercultural growth, and what that looks like as a developmental process.
- Learn a four-phase framework for intercultural learning that forms the backbone of this course and your learning in it.
Module 2 ~ Phase I: Meaning-Making & Self-Awareness
- Develop in Phase I of the four-phase framework, increasing awareness and understanding your own characteristic ways of making meaning and acting in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.
- Complete several activities meant to help you actively experience yourself making meaning, and to begin to unpack how your values and ways of seeing and experiencing the world have been shaped.
- Explore the relationship between names and identity, and how the way we approach others’ names can contribute to people's sense of inclusion and belonging.
Module 3 ~ Phase II: Cultural Differences that Make a Difference
- Focus on Phase II, increasing understanding and awareness of others’ ways of making meaning and acting in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.
- Learn and practice responsibly using culture-general frameworks to explore and appreciate important cultural differences, such as some of the ways values, behaviors, and communication styles may differ across cultures.
Module 4 ~ Phase III: Engaging Mindfully Across Difference
- Explore a seldom-discussed, yet critical, aspect of intercultural learning—how to slow down and engage in more intentional, mindful ways (Phase III), rather than simply reacting on auto-pilot in culturally-conditioned ways, as is the natural tendency.
- Learn two processes for suspending judgment and practicing mindfulness, and have an opportunity to practice these in your own life.
Module 5 ~ Phase IV: Bridging Across Differences
- Learn processes and ways to think about bridging so that we can move beyond knowledge and understanding to engage more effectively and appropriately across differences—while remaining authentic to ourselves.
- Practice applying these processes to several case studies, including a personal experience of your own.
Module 6 ~ Looking Ahead
- Reflect back on and synthesize what you’ve learned throughout the course, then look ahead to plan how you’ll use this learning to make your classes, campuses, and/or communities more inclusive.
- Develop a personal vision statement to guide you in your work as an interculturally competent educator, and outline concrete next steps for applying what you’ve learned.
Meet Your Facilitator
Hi! I’m Tara Harvey. I've worked in or around higher education for more than 20 years, specifically the areas of international education and intercultural learning. From teaching English abroad, to advising international students, working in study abroad, designing intercultural curricula, and facilitating intercultural trainings and courses, I’ve worked in a wide variety of administrative and teaching capacities in higher education.
However, prior to that, I grew up in a relatively homogeneous community in the Midwest, where most people were culturally very similar to me. Going away to college was really the first significant opportunity I had to engage with people from different cultural backgrounds. It was also during college that I got my first passport, when I decided to spend my junior year abroad in Spain. Those experiences were incredibly impactful on me and my future.
I’ve since lived, worked, and traveled abroad much more, and made a career of helping people navigate cultural differences (I'm also in a bicultural marriage). To do so, I’ve had to first and foremost focus on developing my own intercultural competence (and continue to do so). I can say from experience that these are inextricably linked—we cannot help others effectively learn and grow from intercultural experiences if we’re not actively and intentionally working on our own intercultural development, no matter how much international or cross-cultural experience we may have.
That’s why I’m passionate about helping you learn to more effectively and appropriately navigate cultural differences as an educator. I understand the context you’re working in, and will not make you feel judged for what you don’t know.
In my opinion, developing our intercultural competence is an ongoing process. It can be challenging, but also highly rewarding. I’d like to support and empower you with tools to help you on your intercultural learning journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Navigating Cultural Differences differ from the Facilitating Intercultural Learning program?
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Is a there a group rate?
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Interested in Navigating Cultural Differences for a group?
Are you looking to build intercultural capacity within your department, office, or institution? There are various options for teams that want to go through Navigating Cultural Differences together or institutions interested in offering this professional development opportunity to larger groups of educators to increase intercultural capacity.
For small groups of three or more, email us to inquire about a group discount.
If you’re interested in exploring options for groups of ten or more, click here to schedule an inquiry call.