This course offers a critical approach to the field of Cross-Cultural Communication by introducing students to ideas of ‘culture’ and ‘identity’. An understanding of these two concepts is fundamental to all human interaction and a knowledge of the worldwide variations found will enhance the ability of students to communicate successfully across boundaries at all levels. We also look at the importance of language in understanding cultures, and variations in fundamental understandings of such concepts as ‘space’ and ‘time’ which are shared by human beings around the world. The emphasis of the course is on human commonalities, rather than surface differences.
Students will acquire a broad-based understanding of the development of social and academic understandings of ‘culture’ and will examine how these various approaches continue to interact in contemporary discussions which make use the idea of culture. The course draws on a wide variety of materials drawn from such diverse disciplines as evolutionary biology, developmental and social psychology, sociolinguistics, and so on. In this way it attempts to break down the nebulous field of ‘culture’ into better defined areas, open to more rigorous examination.
Students will examine the sources of their own notions of culture, and those they may have been introduced to through formal education; the importance attached to language in defining ‘cultural’ groupings, and the potential artificiality of groups so defined; the various means to which modern states have put ‘culture’. They will also look at a variety of academic approaches used in discussions of culture, and intercultural communication, and examine the assumptions behind those approaches and their resulting relative strengths and limitations.
Students will ask significant questions about the significance of potential definitions of culture, the feasibility of such constructs as ‘national cultures’ and ‘national languages’, and the motivations which are perhaps at the root of societies’ continuing interest in using notions of ‘culture’ as an ideological tool.
Upon successful completion of this course students will: • have started to develop critical skills which allow them to understand, assess and evaluate information in relation to its cultural context • have had opportunity to reflect on their own cultural identity and how it may influence their interaction with individuals from different cultures • be aware of and understand a variety of approaches to the concept of ‘culture’ • be aware of similarities and differences across a variety types of human social groups
As a general rule, efforts will be made to provide as many attendance options (ie. ways to attend class) as possible. I will make sure that students are aware in advance of how they can ‘attend’ class for any given session.
Details will be given to students at the start of the semester and updated according to changes in the public health situation or university guidelines.
The final essay mark consists of three parts:
Essay due: end of semester (19 Jan 2024)
Word count: 2000 (+/- 200 words)
This is an ‘argumentative essay’ on a subject of your choice, it will require you to;
A rubric showing how the essay will be graded will be provided near the start of the course.
You will also need to submit, at specified points throughout the course:
Deadlines for these pieces of assessed work are as follows:
Topic: 24 Nov
Annotated Bibliography: 22 Dec
All reflection papers and essay-related submissions will be through manaba.
Please be aware that I use an online service to check all written submissions. If you want to know more or have objections to your work being submitted for plagiarism checking, please discuss it with me. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of what constitutes plagiarism and of the university’s policies regarding plagiarised work.
YOU are responsible for your participation in this course, I will not remind you to attend class and I will not remind to hand in work on time.
Who are you and how does ‘culture’ affect you?
Hint: Think of what adjectives you might use to describe yourself and to explain your identity to someone you had just met. Can you separate the ‘personal’ from the ‘cultural’? Write about 400 words.
National cultures don’t exist. Discuss.
Hint: How might you argue against this statement? Why might you want to? Does it matter if they exist or not? Try to write about 400 words.
How do you think the language somebody speaks affects how they might behave in everyday life?
Hint: Try to separate out ‘language’ from variations in other factors that affect behaviour (linguistic competence, social situations, social rules about language use etc). Try to write about 400 words.
How would you describe your identity, and how do you think ‘culture’ affects it/you?
(Yes, this is pretty similar to RP1, but that’s the point😉)
For advice and information, please have a look at the ‘Assessment’ page.