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First International Conference on the Development and Assessment of Intercultural Competence

To download the Conference Program, click here

What is Intercultural competence?
Held October 10-11, 2008 ~ The University of Arizona ~ Tucson, Arizona

A conference for K-16 educators and students in fields related to Foreign Languages, Social Sciences/Studies and Humanities, featuring experts in Intercultural Competence and Communication from across the U.S. as well as University of Arizona faculty.

  • Day one of the conference concentrates on defining, developing and assessing Intercultural Competence.
  • Day two focuses upon developing the theme in two geographic regions: Latin America and the Middle East, with sessions on Media; Art and Literature; Gender and Identities.
  • The event culminates in discipline-based workshops in which participants begin to create curriculum materials using the information presented in the keynote talk and presentations.

Intercultural competence is [the ability] “to see relationships between different cultures – both internal and external to a society – and to mediate, that is interpret each in terms of the other, either for themselves or for other people.” It also encompasses the ability to critically or analytically understand that one’s “own and other cultures’” perspective is culturally determined rather than natural. – Byram, M. (2000). Assessing Intercultural Competence in Language Teaching. Sprogforum, 18 (6), pp. 8-13

A simple definition [of intercultural competence], might be: the abilities to perform effectively and appropriately with members of another language-culture background on their terms. – Alvino E. Fantini, Ph.D., School for International Training, Vermont

Intercultural competence might also be defined as knowledge of others; knowledge of self; skills to interpret and relate; skills to discover and/or to interact; valuing others’ values, beliefs, and behaviors; and relativizing one’s self. – Darla Deardorff, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Association of International Education Administrators, Duke University, North Carolina

Although the term is increasingly used today, there is by no means consensus about what it is. So what is Intercultural Competence? How can we help students develop it? How do we assess it? These are the many questions that were addressed during this conference.


Keynote Address

On Becoming Global Souls: Building Intercultural Competence

Speaker: Janet Bennett, Intercultural Communication Institute (Janet Bennett, Intercultural Communication Institute)

Abstract: Being “global souls” – seeing ourselves as members of a world community, knowing that we share the future with others – requires powerful forms of intercultural competence. Being socially responsible – seeking justice, assuring privilege is shared – requires equally complicated skills. Such competence seeks to reconcile the competing commitments to the self and others, at home and across the globe, knowing that this is profoundly difficult. This presentation will explore the centrality of intercultural competence for teaching and learning, suggesting both the benefits and the risks. We will examine strategies for building a mindset and a skillset, and confront some of the complexities of being competent global souls.
This presentation will examine the following questions:

  • What exactly is intercultural competence?
  • What are the benefits of being interculturally competent? And what are the risks?
  • How do we achieve such competence?


Post-conference workshops

The workshops provide a forum in which concrete illustrations of presentation principles will be collaboratively developed and attendees will begin applying these to materials for use in their classes. Attendees select the workshop they plan to attend when they complete the conference registration form.

Workshop 1: Assessing Intercultural Competence during Study Abroad

Facilitator: Renate Schulz, University of Arizona (United States)


Workshop 2: Social Studies

Facilitator: Lisa Adeli, University of Arizona (United States)


Workshop 3: Language Arts

Facilitator: Seemin Raina, University of Arizona (United States)