sisg-761 intercultural communication - american university ... • define intercultural...

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  • SISG-761 Intercultural Communication

    Section 1: Faculty Information Asynchronous Faculty Member: Dr. Terra Gargano

    Section 2: Course Information

    Course Description This interdisciplinary course examines the interaction of people across cultures and considers such topics as cross-cultural communication, management and adaptation, intercultural negotiation, and how culture impacts conflict between individuals, cultures, and nations. The primary goal is to provide students with concepts, knowledge, and skills that will allow them to analyze and interpret the dynamics of any cross-cultural interaction or conflict and adapt their behavior.

    Learning Outcomes

    At the end of the course, students will be able to:

    • define intercultural communication as a field of inquiry within international relations. 
 • apply foundational theories, paradigm, and theoretical frameworks in order to understand

    the academic field and discourse of intercultural communication. • expand their cross-cultural analytical and intercultural competency skills. • explain a broad range of social, economic, historical, technological, and cultural contexts and

    trends that influence cross-cultural encounters. • describe the dynamics of intercultural communication at the interpersonal, national, and

    international levels. 

    Required Textbook & Course Material

    Gary Weaver. Intercultural Relations: Communication, Identity, and Conflict. Boston: Pearson, 2014

    Edward R. Hall. Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1981. ISBN: 0385124740

    Various articles and texts will be posted online.

    Course Requirements

  • American University School of International Service 2

    Assessment Percentage Class Attendance, Preparedness, and Participation 10% Collaborative Analysis and Discussion of an Issue 30% Quizzes 10% Cultural Mentoring Project 25% JIS Article 25% TOTAL – Final Grade 100%

    Your final grade is determined by the cumulative average of the following:

    Class Attendance and Participation: Class attendance is mandatory in both synchronous and asynchronous sessions. The professor should be notified ahead of time of any absence. Students are expected to come prepared to actively participate in class discussions and all exercises.

    Class activities will vary day to day, including simulations, multimedia presentations, discussions, and group activities. You will be active participants in the course, and much of the learning taking place throughout the semester will happen through interactions in the classroom. You need to ask questions, present your ideas, raise issues, and otherwise contribute to an informed and substantive classroom discussion. You will also be required to present course material and lead class discussions throughout the semester. Attendance and participation in class activities and discussions are required.

    Your active involvement in the class will be taken into account if your final grade is “borderline” as defined by your instructor.

    Collaborative Analysis and Discussion of an Issue: The grades for the presentation and the paper will be averaged and account for 30% of your overall course grade.

    You will be assigned to write an applied research and position paper on one of the topics listed below. While your analysis should consider all relevant sources and concepts we cover in this course, it should also bring additional information and scholarship to your issue. This is not simply a personal essay or opinion piece—you must support your analysis and position with solid research and scholarship. Be certain that you fully answer the assigned question with specific applications and illustrations.

    Papers will be graded in terms of comprehensiveness, relevancy to course themes, application and development of concepts, support for your position, depth and breadth of analysis and interpretation, creativity, and command of relevant concepts and literature.

    An abundance of writing errors will definitely lower your score. Please carefully proofread and edit your final draft before you submit it for grading. Your paper should be approximately 10–12 double- spaced pages using 12-point font with complete footnotes or endnotes and bibliography. Direct quotes, paraphrases, and specific concepts or facts require citations using the Chicago style (see

  • American University School of International Service 3

    An attempt will be made to divide the topics evenly among the class, creating four or five informal “teams.” While each student will write an individual paper, this will allow students to occasionally meet with others who are writing a similar paper to share resources, ideas, and so forth. Furthermore, each issue team will present their findings to the entire class.

    The team presentation should be engaging, professional, informative, and add additional information to our class. You can use any format or supporting graphics such as PowerPoint, videos, panel discussion, and so on. However, the total presentation is limited to only 10 minutes with 5 minutes for Q&A from the rest of the class.

    Some issues overlap with others, and it may be useful to try to share resources and findings with other teams.

    Your presentation will take place during the synchronous session of Week 8, and your paper is due before the start of class on Week 9. You will rank the following topics in order of preference during the first week of class. Details for doing this will be posted in the learning management system (LMS).


    1. Globalization often means modernization and even westernization or Americanization. Discuss the impact of “globalization” on cultures around the world, and include in your discussion the concepts of globalization and cultural hybridity. Give specific example.

    2. While some scholars claim that modern telecommunications allow cultures to come together in a “global village,” others claim that the same technology promotes propaganda, manipulation, and distortion of one’s own national image and the image of other nations, thereby increasing hostility between peoples. Discuss this issue with specific examples.

    3. Do the psychological and communication principles of conflict resolution apply to all cultures, or are they specific to the United States and European conflicts? Discuss the impact of cultural differences on negotiation and conflict resolution, and provide at least one actual “case” or example to illustrate.

    4. How does culture impact negotiation? Illustrate with at least one international and one domestic example. How can we overcome barriers and difficulties that culture creates in cross-cultural negotiation?

    5. Contrast and compare the contemporary Muslim or Arab immigrant experience in the U.S. and Europe in terms of impact on the dominant culture, public policy, and assimilation or enculturation.

    6. How does cross-cultural communication impact development projects? Cite specific examples of where cross-cultural awareness and communication skills impact development projects going back to the writing of Margaret Mead and Hart’s “Development as Cross-Cultural Communication” in the Journal of International Communication (Vol. 9, No. 2, 2003).

    7. Are there certain cultural values that are necessary for economic and democratic development? Provide as much evidence as possible, and give specific examples of how certain values lead to development in specific countries or regions of the world. Some relevant sources might include Lawrence Harrison’s writing.

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    Quizzes: Two 20-question multiple choice quizzes will cover lectures, discussions, readings, exercises, videos, and interviews. The quizzes are not cumulative, and you will be required to take the quizzes during the synchronous portion of the course during Week 4 and Week 7. Two quizzes throughout the term will account for 10% of your overall final grade.

    Cultural Mentoring Project: The focus of this assignment is to encourage you to think about how you can continue to improve your intercultural competency or global dexterity. The purpose of a Cultural Mentoring Project is to help you articulate an approach for expanding your intercultural competency by learning more about cross-cultural mentoring, seeking out a cultural mentor, and initiating a cultural mentoring relationship.

    The first step in designing an action plan is to critically reflect on your own cross-cultural adaptability and your own beliefs, values, and attitudes to identify a professional behavior that you would like to learn how to enact more effectively across cultures. Examples could include providing feedback, negotiations, or collaborating on a project.

    Questions you may want to consider as you think about crafting your project and selecting a potential cultural mentor include:

    • What are some important characteristics for you in choosing a cultural mentor? • What kind of mentor would complement or contradict your communication or cross-cultural

    adaptability style? • Does this person possess the skills and knowledge I am looking for? • Does this person personify professionalism and leadership? • Will this person be open and honest with you? • What are your expectations of a cultural mentoring relationship? • What do you envision a cultural mentoring relations


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