To operate successfully in today’s increasingly globalized, culturally and ethnically diverse environment, one needs to be culturally sensitive and globally competent. This 3-week course will help students understand their own culture and appreciate and become more sensitive to intercultural differences – all toward the objective of developing skills for more productive personal and professional communication with people from cultures other than their own. This course is highly interactive, experiential, and dynamic and consists of three 1-week learning blocks, providing theoretical and practical insights into intercultural communication. Students will be asked to read challenging texts, engage in class discussions, think critically about the perspectives brought in by guest speakers, and journal about and reflect on experiences in Colombia. Basic questions this course will address are: What is culture and how does it influence the values we hold, the way we perceive the world, and how we interact with others? How can we better face the challenges of working and living in a diverse and global world? What does it mean to adjust to new cultural environments and is this possible? This will be done through a survey of the leading concepts and theories on intercultural communication, students’ examination of their own intercultural experiences, past and during the course, and by engaging in field activities in and around Colombia to experience first-hand the various dimensions of communicating interculturally.
Block I: Poverty, Peace, and Progress
This portion of the course, based in Bogotá, provides interdisciplinary learning about contemporary Colombian culture and society. Students explore Colombia's recent past, Bogotá's present, and the country's global place in the future.
Block II: Coffee, Conflict, and Inequality
The coursework and readings in this block looks at issues from two different perspectives: urban and rural. The urban case study in Medellin examines urban regeneration and revitalization, poverty, social justice, education, and the transformation of Medellin from a veritable war zone to an international arts and tech hub. The rural case studies in Pijao and other towns in Quindío look at cultural tourism, rural identities, sustainable cultural practices, and migration to urban centers.
Colombia is one of the largest coffee producers in the world and in a nod to its importance UNESCO designated part of Colombia as a World Heritage site in 2011. This region, dubbed the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, will be the program base for this portion of the trip, with stays in Pijao and Salento. The 5 days in the eje cafetero
(coffee axis) will be spent visiting fincas
(coffee farms) and meeting with local workers to discuss coffee production, sustainability, and social justice issues. Students will also spend one-day in Génova discussing Colombia’s decades-long war and its relation to coffee production.
Block III: Multiculturalism, Identity, and Human Rights
The third global perspectives theme explores Colombian diversity, specifically looking at Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities around coastal Colombia. Colombians of African descent make up the 2nd largest African minority in South America after Brazil and the 4th largest black/African descent community in the western hemisphere after Haiti, Brazil, and the US. Indigenous peoples in Colombia make up only 3.5% of the population, with some 102 distinct indigenous groups.
Both Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples of Colombia have faced discrimination, poverty, and lack of access to basic commodities and education despite Colombia’s multi-ethnic constitution guaranteeing rights to minority groups. Using Cartagena as a base, students will examine the roots of tensions in the country and will compare the situation in Colombia to current events in the US. Main issues in this block focus on poverty, inequality, human rights, minority rights, and music as an expression of identity. Students spend an overnight in an indigenous community.
Using Colombia as a case-study, by the end of the program, students should be able to:
• Describe the historical and contemporary relationships between communication culture.
• Critically analyze manifestations of cultural difference, including instances of both intercultural tensions and intercultural cooperation.
• Gain an understanding of contemporary social justice issues in Colombia and how to interpret and evaluate group concerns using intercultural theory.
• Reflect upon the impact that your own cultural positionality has had in shaping your lifestyle, attitudes, values and behaviors.
• Develop practical global competencies for engaging in communication across difference at home and abroad.
This is a great program for students of any major as intercultural communication skills are highly sought after in today's global workplace. Culturally-competent and globally-aware graduates are more likely to succeed in their chosen professions and have a better chance of getting into graduate school.
: May 13 to June 4, 2018 (in country)
: 1 Unit (M5); 3-4 credits for non-Moravian students
: $3,100 + airfare and fees (includes: tuition, in-country transportation, housing, and most meals)
: March 5, 2018
Colombia Program Director
: Christian Sinclair (Director of International Studies)
: Contact program director at email@example.com