Interculturality

During the Kick-Off meeting held in Bilbao in December 2013, the EMIC theoretical approach was discussed and agreed on. The Theoretical Approach Summary table gives a comparative overview of the various theoretical perspectives on the nature and the components of the Intercultural Competence (IC) that the EMIC project builds on. Brought together, these theoretical approaches permit us:
  1.  to methodologically align the different project phases,
  2. to account for our specific context: students from very different cultural backgrounds who experience at least two national and educational cultures throughout their Master experience and who live and work in (continuously changing) multi-cultural environments,
  3. to highlight our aim of helping Erasmus Mundus students become intercultural learners and citizens, and
  4. to visualise how both qualitative and quantitative assessment can help us measure the effectiveness of the training to be developed.

According to Fantini [1], Intercultural Competence contains four components: knowledge, awareness, skills and attitudes. Firstly, intercultural knowledge includes not only knowledge of different cultures (their customs, products, and ways of communicating) but also knowledge of your own culture. It also includes knowledge of concepts derived from research on interculturality that can aid intercultural understanding and behaviour, for example stereotyping processes, dimensions of culture, and identity. Secondly, intercultural awareness signifies awareness of the “other” and yourself in the intercultural context. Thirdly, intercultural attitudes include respect for equality and diversity, curiosity and openness as well as general interest in other cultures. Fourthly, intercultural skills, such as intercultural communication and conflict resolving, are needed to ensure that the other three components of Intercultural Competence are exercised in practice[2]. Further, it is important to point out that Intercultural Competence, in addition to helping with student integration and overall experience, is a key characteristic needed for a working life in the ever more global labour market. Intercultural competence is seen as one of the key competences for 21st century graduates[3] and as such is needed for professional learning.

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[1] Fantini, A. (2000). A central concern: developing intercultural competence. School for International Training Occasional Papers Series, Inaugural Issue, 25-42.
[2]Gruber, R., Gómez, N., Solabarrieta, J., Bahillo, L., Norman, I. and ALBOAN (2007). El voluntario Internacional: Una experiencia de implicación y diálogo intercultural. Una experiencia para aprender. ALBOAN, Lankopi, S.A.
[3] Commission of the European Communities. (2005). Proposal for a recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on key competences for lifelong learning (COM (2005)548 final; 2005/0221(COD)). Brussels. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/2010/doc/keyrec_en.pdf

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