Summary: The Importance Of Intercultural Education

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Over the past twenty-five years, the number of American students who participate in study has significantly grown. During the 2010-2011 school year, 273,996 students studied more than three times the number of students who participated in 1990 (Movassaghi, Unsal, & Göçer, 2014; Twombly, Salisbury, Tumanut, & Klute, 2012). More than half of the American students who studied abroad in 2009-2010 chose one of four European host countries; the United Kingdom, France, Italy, or Spain. Almost half of all students who took their studies overseas came from the social sciences and business programs (Tarrant, Rubin, & Stoner, 2014). Over 90 percent of American colleges and universities had study abroad opportunities available by 2009 (Twombly, Salisbury, …show more content…
Colleges and universities have placed an emphasis on the importance of internationalizing their campuses in recent years to aid in producing 21st century global citizens (Osfield & Terrel, 2009; Jackson, 2008). To be competitive in the global marketplace, it is increasingly necessary to possess intercultural competence skills (Sample, 2012). Intercultural competence is defined as, “…the personal ability needed to communicate and work efficiently in intercultural every-day and business situations with members of different cultural groups or in a foreign cultural environment” (Behrnd & Porzelt, 2012, p. 214). Another definition: “…abilities to adeptly navigate complex environments marked by a growing diversity of peoples, cultures and lifestyles” (UNESCO, 2013, p. 5). Students seeking to acquire awareness and appreciation for other cultures and viewpoints, as well as experience in communication interaction with other cultures often turn to study abroad programs to fulfill this need (Movassaghi, Unsal, & Göçer, …show more content…
According to the authors of the study, there are four areas of possible areas of growth from participation in study abroad experiences: academic/intellectual, professional, personal, and intercultural, with the focus of their research being intercultural area. They found that almost all programs include academic and intercultural objectives; however, the intercultural goals are often “ill defined and unmeasured” (Anderson, Lawton, Rexeisen, & Hubbard, 2006, p. 458). Anderson et al. used the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI prior to departure and four weeks after students’ return to determine the degree to which cross-cultural sensitivity was developed. The authors found, using the IDI, that participants’ intercultural sensitivity increased after a four-week program in England and Ireland. They suggest that students with higher levels of cross-cultural sensitivity will be able to apply these skills in all diverse environments, including back on campus and future professional situations (Anderson, Lawton, Rexeisen, and Hubbard, 2006). It would be interesting to determine if the level of intercultural sensitivity was higher for students who spent more time

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