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Intercultural Learning and Development

Theme: Becoming interculturally competent – skills, attitudes, new thinking

Indicative research questions

  • What skills, attitudes and/or new thinking are needed for an individual or professional group to function effectively in a (particular) culturally unfamiliar environment? How can those competency needs be identified?

  • What development methods, activities and resources are effective for helping people develop those skills, attitudes and/or new thinking? How are they best evaluated?


Developing 'Global Graduate' Competency (Resource Development Project)

This project, which is collaborative with the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), is addressing the needs reported in CIHE's 'Global Graduates into Global Leaders' paper by developing an interactive e-Course for undergraduates.

  • Project Staff: Prof Helen Spencer-Oatey, Dr Sophie Reissner-Roubicek, Andy Davidson

  • Collaborators: Staff from NCUB

  • Duration: Ongoing from November 2013

Campus Integration

In collaboration with the International Office, we are actively involved in researching and promoting campus integration.

Research: We have added some additional questions to the International Student Barometer and Student Barometer surveys to explore levels of reported integration across campus in terms of multicultural friendships and multicultural groupwork, as well as students' attitudes towards it. These surveys are run twice a year (once in the autumn and once in the early summer) and we have now obtained a large databank of responses. We are currently in the process of analysing that data.

Integration Summits: In collaboration with the International Office, UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and the National Union of Students (NUS), we have established regular integration summits. The main target audience is international offices staff and NUS staff in universities across the UK, and the aim is to explore issues of campus integration from an operational perspective. For details of the Integration Summits so far, along with video recordings of the plenary talks, please visit our Public Engagement pages or our Global People website.

Global Engineers, Global People? 

This project is being carried out at the University of Leuven, Belgium, with assistance from WACC staff. Engineering undergraduates at the University of Leuven take a compulsory module in intercultural communication and, as part of that course, they are asked to study the Global People Competency Framework, which includes explanations and examples. Data collected so far has focused on students' perceptions of the relative usefulness of the framework, examples of how they have applied it to their lives, and their suggestions for improvement. Findings to date were presented at the 41st SEFI (European Society for Engineering Education) Conference, 16-20 September 2013, Leuven, Belgium. Click here to access the paper.

  • University of Leuven staff: Jan van Maele, Basil Vassilicos
  • University of Warwick WACC staff: Helen Spencer-Oatey, Sophie Reissner-Roubicek
  • Duration: Ongoing from 2012.

Several of our MSc students have undertaken work placements in engineering companies, including Audi, BMW and Changan Automobiles,carrying out projects related to intercultural skills.

'Global Engineers' Intercultural Network (Network Project)

We are building a small network of engineers and interculturalists who are interested in researching and developing the intercultural skills needed by engineers. This has started with a small amount of funding from the University of Warwick's International Partnership Fund to establish links with the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Tokyo, Japan. We held our first workshop in March 2013 (2 days, 14-15 March) at the University of Warwick, and the second will be held in Tokyo in May 2014. The aim is to explore areas of synergy and ways in which we can collaborate in research and/or the development of training materials.

  • University of Warwick WACC staff: Keith Richards, Helen Spencer-Oatey, Sophie Reissner-Roubicek, Lynnette Richards
  • University of Warwick Engineering staff: Dr Tony Price, Dr Benoit Jones
  • University of Tokyo staff: Prof Kazumasa Ozawa, Prof Mike Handford, Dr Petr Matous
  • University of Leuven staff: Dr Jan van Maele
  • Duration: Initial funding for 2 years, September 2012 - July 2014
Global TIES (Training in Intercultural Effectiveness) for Work (Resource Development Project)

Through this project we have developed an e-Course, Global TIES, to train professionals and graduates in 'global skills for the workplace'. There is a blended version of the course, with live interactive video-conference sessions to supplement the e-Course, and there is also a standalone version.

  • Project Staff: Prof Helen Spencer-Oatey, Dr Sophie Reissner-Roubicek, Mr Andy Davidson
  • Collaborators: British Council Japan
The Globally-oriented Curriculum

This project built on the outcomes of the Global People Project and developed a framework for conceptualising the 'global skills' that students need at different stages of their university career in order to prepare them for the world of work.

  • Funding: Kings-Warwick Project HEFCE grant (£30K)
  • Project staff: Stuart Reid, Stefanie Stadler, Helen Spencer-Oatey
  • Duration: 12 months: April 2009 - March 2010.
The Global People Project

This project formed Phase 3 of the eChina-UK Programme - a large Sino-UK intergovernmental e-Learning programme, comprising a number of collaborative teacher training projects between British and Chinese university staff. Phases 1 and 2 ran between 2002 and 2007, and raised numerous issues about working effectively on international projects. The Global People project was funded in order to draw out learning from these experiences for the benefit of others who might be undertaking partnership projects.

  • Funding: HEFCE T&L grant (£194K)
  • Project staff: Stuart Reid, Stefanie Stadler, Helen Spencer-Oatey
  • Duration: 18 months: 1st January 2008 – 31st August 2009

Our deliverables were as follows:

  • (a) A Website, which contains an overview of the project as well as access to a range of project outputs.
  • (b) A Toolbook, which is a practical guide to managing intercultural partnerships and can be used (i) on a self-access basis, and/or (ii) for staff development purposes.
  • (c) A Life Cycle Model that addresses how to manage the 5 stages of a project life-cycle.
  • (d) A Learning Process Model, underlying the Life-cycle Model, that encourages building reflection into the collaboration process and encourages ongoing and continuous learning throughout and beyond the life-cycle of a project.
  • (e) A Competency Model that discusses a range of competences required to be interculturally effective in four different competency-areas, including (i) knowledge and skills, (ii) communication, (iii) relationships, and (iv) personal qualities/dispositions.
  • (f) A ‘Resource Bank’ that includes a number of pdfs to download, including a multidisciplinary landscaping study, a paper on Sino-British interactions, and pdfs of all the models as well as the toolbook.
  • (g) Academic publications.

Extracts from the Global People Resources have been used by UKCISA in their 'New to International' online course and by the British Council in their 'Connecting Classrooms' (global) courses.

For information on our public engagement associated with this theme, please visit our Public Engagement pages.