Professional practice situated in a global workplace, with international mobility and international and cultural engagement as centre piece
UTS graduates are living in a culturally diverse and increasingly internationalised world. Many will be working with groups in which cross-cultural communication and cultural safety will be important, working in different countries during their careers or working for organisations in which international travel and global interaction are the norm. Graduates’ international and intercultural capabilities will be critical for their lives as professionals and citizens.
International and cultural engagement imply the need for students and staff to develop the perspectives necessary to adapt their ways of working to different cultures and contexts (Leask, 2007). UTS has a strong and innovative International Studies program, students from more than 130 different language backgrounds, a culturally diverse staff, subjects that focus on international perspectives in some disciplines, the UTS BUiLD program and a range of other cultural engagement opportunities for students inside and outside the curriculum. The following indicates a broad range of ways in which UTS can extend students’ international and intercultural engagement:
- International experience, including In-Country study, exchange, international work experience or practicum programs, international volunteering;
- Supporting learning of other languages and learning about other countries and cultures in the curriculum, across as many courses as possible;
- Creating online opportunities for students to engage in discussion with others from different countries and cultures as part of their course;
- Developing current international perspectives on the discipline or professional field through international literature, case studies and studies of international professional practice;
- Enabling students to compare perspectives on how knowledge and practice are developed across different countries and cultures;
- Engaging students in exploration of issues related to globalisation;
- Developing students’ awareness of their own and other cultures as part of their course learning and assessment experiences;
- Involving students in cross-cultural teamwork, using tasks in which cultural diversity is necessary for success;
- Teaching and assessing in ways that cater for the needs of a culturally diverse student population;
- Supporting international students to adjust to the challenge of learning in a different country, culture and language, noting that local students also need to adjust to university learning and to the academic cultures of the disciplines they are studying;
- Extending the range of co-curricular opportunities for intercultural learning and leadership;
- Extending opportunities for intercultural learning and exchange that involve both students and staff within our culturally diverse university community.
Some of these opportunities, such as international experience, afford immersive experiences of other cultures that can transform the worldviews and personal capabilities of the students who participate. Others focus more strongly on ‘internationalisation at home’ (Nilsson, 1999), implying the broadening of international content and learning opportunities within the curriculum to enable students who do not go overseas to experience international and intercultural perspectives and engagement. Our culturally diverse student and staff population and Sydney location provide many opportunities for UTS to engage in these approaches.
It is also recognised that some disciplines vary more than others across cultures and different disciplines will have different approaches to some aspects of international and intercultural engagement. Comparing international case studies (for example) is likely to be more meaningful in Management than in Mathematics. However, all students need to develop capabilities for working in culturally diverse environments and and some aspects of international and intercultural engagement can be developed in all disciplines. One example is the provision of opportunities for students to work in and reflect on their experiences in cross-cultural teams. Carefully designed teamwork activities in which diverse teams are an advantage can support students' development of cross-cultural capabilities.
- Students studying Italian can interact with others in Second Italy, a site in Second Life. Second Italy allows students in Australia to be immersed in authentic Italian language before their in-country study semester, and students in Italy to share what they are learning and have support from peers and lecturers while they are away. Students also keep blogs and contribute to a wiki resource for future in-country students.
- First year students in Visual Communication design new fonts through drawing on their own cultural heritages and the principles of font design. Students can see that their cultural backgrounds are valued. At the end of the subject, they present their designs to a commercial font company, and some of the fonts have been commercialised.
- Students studying Japanese and French use podcasts to listen to conversations recorded by their lecturers, then create similar recordings based on scenarios. Students use a portfolio to upload podcasts and videoclips and critically reflect on their language learning and intercultural awareness.
- First year Nursing students from non-English speaking backgrounds had difficulties with pronouncing medical terms while on clinical practicum. A team from the faculty and ELSSA created an online audiovisual resource to supplement a face-to-face language teaching program. A health professional took photographs of equipment and made audio recordings, with the resource provided through UTSOnline. The resources were aimed at students from non-English speaking backgrounds but are useful for all students. Read more...
- Students in Journalism interact online with students internationally in an exercise in monitoring and comparing plastic bag use across different countries. The students become aware of cultural differences in values and practices.
- Students in Engineering and IT team up with students in two other time zones to experience the difficulties when cooperating in diverse teams, whic come from many different locations. Read more...