Intercultural communication is a part of everyday-life interactions in complex societies. Nevertheless, interpersonal and collective conflicts keep on arising because of the scarce attention given by organisations and individuals towards the development of intercultural sensibility, competencies and attitudes. Intercultural skills, therefore, will become more and more crucial for working and interacting in future societies.
For this reason, this course aims to providing a general introduction to intercultural communication, and developing professional and interpersonal skills to apply in different organisational contexts: health, education, housing, cultural mediation. The intercultural composition of the Venice International University student body will help this process.
The program will be divided in three parts:
This structure is based on regular class attendance, introducing the basic skills of the program and trying to stimulate a critical approach to daily life interactions.
In the first part (1st to 10th hour), I will introduce students to the main aspects of interpersonal communication: verbal and non-verbal communication, emotions, active listening, speaking, conversation, proxemics and kinesics. Frontal lectures will illustrate how modes of communication have pragmatic effects on relationships and identities. Examples from movies, journalism and experience will be provided and discussed in the classroom.
Secondly (11th to 20th hour), we will discuss the topics of identity, culture and pluralism. Students will engage in team activities to illuminate and criticize some taken-for-granted aspects of their cultural background. The aim of this second part is to understand how identity, otherisation and representation work together in our experience and how biases influence our interactions with different types of ‘other’. Students will be invited to discuss from an intersectional perspective how different collective identities are fused in their own experience.
Thirdly we will focus on the principles and practices of intercultural communication (21st-36th hour). Experimental class activities will be aimed at deconstructing stereotypes, learning to manage interpersonal conflicts, recognising and accepting misunderstandings as normal outcomes of any interpersonal communication. We will consider the risks and sources of misunderstanding in intercultural communication, i.e. misexpression, misperception, misframing, misidentification.
Finally, we will approach intercultural communication in practice providing examples deriving from past research experiences in cultural mediation, housing mediation and secondary data on mediation in health and in education. Students will be asked to suggest practical solutions to intercultural conflicts of different kinds and will research journal articles concerning the problems of intercultural mediation.
Expected learning outcomes
Introduction to Communication
Functions and meaning of non-verbal communication
Verbal Communication as a Pragmatic Activity
Perception and bias
Identity as interaction: ego-alter relationship, differentiation and imitation
Identity as representation: media, symbols and discourse
Culture and subjectivity: against over- and under-estimation of culture
Approaching intercultural communication: identification, stereotypes, representations.
Active learning and situational competence
Creative approaches to conflict resolution
Experiences of multicultural communication in organisational settings.
30% Logbook of weekly readings and presentations
30% Classroom exercises
40% Final exam.
Lectures will be based on the contents of the following two books:
- Holliday A., Hyde M. and John Kullman, Intercultural Communication. An Advanced Resource Book, Routledge, 2017, latest edition.
- Wood Julia T. Interpersonal communication. Everyday encounters, Boston: Cengage, 2016, 8th ed.
The professor will also provide Power Point slides summarizing the content of the course and additional material for the class work.