Best Practices Conference in 2001
Best Practices Conference in June, 2001
Project Title: Development of a course addressing the integration of intercultural learning within the academic context.
The project will focus on the challenges we faced at Carleton in the development of a course, which would address the crucial issue of integrating intercultural learning within the academic context. The project focus is on the translation of experience into academic and intellectual skills through the addition of critical and analytical thinking and theory. We wanted the course to incorporate service learning and reflective practices, integrate on- and off-campus learning, focus on transition and reentry issues, develop interdisciplinary models, and bring together American off campus studies returnees, international, and minority students, and first generation immigrants in a team-taught, interdisciplinary seminar.
Carleton College, with generous support from the Starr Foundation, launched a new academic program of Cross-Cultural Studies in the fall of 2000. The Cross-Cultural Studies program brings together American, international students, minority students, and first generation immigrants in team-taught, interdisciplinary seminars to address and explore global issues and problems in a comparative, collaborative framework. Through regular course work, study abroad programs, and on-campus social events, faculty and students analyze topics that cut across traditional national and cultural boundaries and share cross-cultural experiences.
The Cross-Cultural Studies program is designed to increase students' intercultural competencies and produce graduates who are able to participate in a global society and work in an increasingly multicultural and global workforce. The program also intends to attract international students who, in coming to Carleton, will experience a culture not their own, giving them an experiential basis for comparative study. The Starr Foundation grant also provides scholarship assistance to qualified students from Asia for four years of study at Carleton College leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Starr Scholars are expected to participate in the Cross-Cultural Studies concentration, although they are free to pursue any major they desire.
The program is designed as a concentration at Carleton. A concentration is a series of related courses representing a variety of disciplines that complement work in a student's major, whatever that may be.
In December 2000, the Cross-Cultural Studies Program held a four-day faculty workshop in preparation for teaching the transition course, " I'm a Stranger Here Myself."
The objectives for the workshop were to review theories and models of identity development, experiential learning, and intercultural transitions, demonstrate and discuss effective pedagogy for students in transition, and develop a course curriculum. Faculty participants, facilitators and presenters in the workshop represented a diversity of disciplines, experience and backgrounds.
In format, the workshop roughly followed a methodology that is to be used by the team teaching the course. The facilitators presented the intercultural theories. Faculty speakers provided examples and case studies within their discipline to support or illustrate the theories. Faculty participants shared and reflected upon their personal intercultural experiences.
The workshop had two parts: an intense, information-rich, three-afternoon colloquium, and a one-afternoon curriculum-writing session. Each day began with a faculty colleague presenting information in a lecture and discussion format. This was followed by a brief presentation of intercultural theories. Participants then discussed these theories in depth, using personal experience as examples, and examined ways in which to extend both experience and theory into the course curriculum.
Evaluations and questions at the end of each day provided the opening for the next day's discussion. They also enabled the facilitators to keep in touch with participants' interests and needs while drawing them into the planning of the transition course curriculum. The facilitators also reminded participants of the connection between the course's design and the group's discussions about intercultural competency, field-based pedagogy, and integration of theory and classroom instruction. In addition to presentations and discussions, the workshop also drew on a comprehensive workbook, which included readings on reentry and other topics, handouts currently used by Carleton's Off-Campus Studies Office, and articles on the transformative nature of intercultural learning.
On the final day, workshop participants began to draft a curriculum for the transition course, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself." After reviewing concepts and theories, workshop participants identified the objectives and outcomes, the structure and logistics, pedagogy, and methodology to be used in the course.
The course: Cross Cultural Studies 175, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself"
Designed for students who are returning from off-campus studies or who have lived abroad, or for anyone who has had the experience of being an outsider, this course will explore theories and models of intercultural competence and intercultural transition. Using the actual experiences of the students in class as its evidence, it will first develop theories about the nature of intercultural contact, and then test their usefulness by applying them to the analysis of specific historical and literary evidence and to additional intercultural experiences found in the course's field-learning component. The course is required of Cross Cultural Studies concentrators.
The course proposes to highlight the multiple identities that student develop in intercultural situations, and challenge and support students' exploration of transitions and cultural marginality. The pedagogy is firmly grounded in field-based learning, coupling theory with practice. The course will add the additional layer of using evidence within a specific discipline, depending on the faculty instructor's own background, to inform both the students' theoretical understanding and their personal reflections. Students will also be expected to demonstrate their mastery of the course content by reapplying intercultural skills and insights in new ways.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able:
Main text: Verburg, C. (1997) Making Contact: Readings from Home and Abroad. Boston, MA: Bedford Press.
Course packet of articles and readings of theories, and literary and historical materials
Films, videos, web sites
Community resources, such as U.S. and international staff and faculty on campus, community individuals and groups representing various ethnicities and races, etc.
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