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Warwick Integration Summit 2014 Presentations

The Oz Moment: Cultural Learning and the Intuitive Mind

Dr Joseph Shaules, Japan Intercultural Institute, Tokyo

Many travellers and sojourners remember tiny details from their time abroad. Aki remembered the short toilet stall doors in the LAX airport; Kenji recalls cows he saw by the side of the road in Canada. I call these slice-of-life memories "Oz moments" after a scene from the movie "The Wizard of Oz" in which Dorothy looks around wondrously at her new environment and says "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore Toto!" Oz moments are provoked by tiny things which remind us that we are in another world. Yet why do we remember such tiny details for months or even years?

To find answers, we need to look at new research from the fields of cognitive and cultural neuroscience. Recent research in cultural neuroscience is showing us that much high level cognition takes place outside of conscious awareness. From the cognitive perspective, Oz moments can be seen as evidence that our intuitive mind (or, cognitive unconscious) is hard at work detecting and making sense of anomalies. Oz moments are just one example of cultural learning phenomena that can be better understood using a cognitive perspective. Others include deep cultural difference, culture shock, ethnocentrism, hidden bias and cultural frame-shifting. Research in these areas may lead to a paradign shift in intercultural education as we start to better understand the unconscious processes underlying cultural learning.

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Guiding Principles for Promoting Integration – Insights from Research

Professor Helen Spencer-Oatey, University of Warwick

It is widely accepted that there is insufficient integration of home and international students on university campuses. Glass and Westmont (2014), for example, argue that “Domestic and international students often live in parallel social worlds, shut off from meaningful interaction with one another”. Most universities have taken numerous steps to try and address this issue, with varying degrees of success and with most people feeling much more still needs to be done. In this talk, I explore some background research that can offer some useful principles on which to plan and base these steps.
In the first part, I report the insights yielded by a number of studies carried out both in this country and overseas. I draw attention to a range of key variables that have emerged and I consider their implications for promoting integration more effectively. The factors include: the impact of different types of contact; influences on people’s level of desire to integrate; and the resilience that people may experience through developing a sense of belonging. The latter has recently been found to be particularly important. The second part of my talk reports on findings from the (International) Student Barometer autumn 2013 survey which throw further valuable light on these issues, including the differing viewpoints of different nationality group members. My aim is, by the end of my talk, to have identified some key guiding principles that can be used for considering the potential value of different types of integration activities.

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