Promoting Intercultural Competence in Your Learning Environment

Being a Global Educator at Northeastern

Being an educator at Northeastern has become an increasingly global endeavor, with a steadily growing population of international students and expanding global network. However, “the presence of cultural diversity does not automatically lead to intercultural contact” (Campbell, 2012). Consider actively engaging the diversity of backgrounds of your learners to enrich the experience for everyone by:

  • Facilitating practical, meaningful experience with learners from various cultures. Thoughtfully architect the composition of learner networks, groups, and pairs for activities in your learning experience.  Increasing the contact between international and domestic learners has been found to foster social connections and ease the transition to an unfamiliar learning environment for international students.  Furthermore, it can help build a sense of community in your class that is grounded in intercultural collaboration.
  • Illustrating concepts and theories in your course through a global lens.  In fulfilling our mission to prepare learners to meet global and societal needs, it’s important that they experience and become familiar with intercultural encounters.  By framing your content in a global context, you can widen their perspectives on the world, challenge stereotypes, and help them build connections between topics and to their own experiences that they otherwise might not.
  • Having learners reflect on the experience and challenges of intercultural communication in your class.  Encourage your learners to engage in meaningful reflection of their experiences.  How were challenges, such as language barriers, overcome? How did the experiences relate to what they are learning?  What skills did the students acquire or hone related to their experiences? Through the act of reflecting, your learners are likely to become more mindful of their growth and development as global citizens.


Campbell, N. (2012). Promoting intercultural contact on campus: A project to connect and engage international and host students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 16, 205-227.