Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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In order to gain Multicultural Competence, we first need to know ourselves, and reflect on our own identities. Our ethnic, gender, religious, national identities define who we are and shape our interaction with others. In this seminar, we will first examine our own identities and the cultures we identify with in a reflective and critical way. We will then focus on conditions and activities that are designed to foster shifts of perspective, expanded awareness and emotional states that allow empathetic understanding to develop. We will embrace a holistic approach to intercultural training, focusing on individuals’ emotional, physical and intellectual experience of cultural difference. Activities will focus on the development and conscious application of key intercultural competencies, including mindfulness, frame shifting, and stretching beyond our comfort zones. The more we are able to be mindful, the more we understand our own stories and learn to extend themselves beyond their comfort zones, the more empathetic we can be when we make cultural transitions.

The second half of the seminar will focus on the political and sociological factors that shape national, ethnic, religious and gender identities through case studies of particular interest to seminar participants. What are the structural factors that constrain and what choices do we have as we construct our identities? We will examine the nation building projects in developing countries that constructed new ‘national myths’ and new identities in tension with existing ethnic, racial, religious and other identities. How has nation building empowered particular ethnic, religious, racial groups in this process at the expense of others? Whose cultures have been privileged, others suppressed? Where is the balance between maintaining cultural diversity and group rights, at the same time creating a state which erases group privileges in order to promote individual rights and ‘citizens’ whose primary loyalty is to the ‘nation’? Has globalization brought with it even greater identification with local cultures? This seminar will attempt to explore these issues in order to provide a deeper understanding of Power and Identity in a Multicultural World as students prepare to make cultural transitions.

International Policy
International Policy
Intl Policy & Management
Requirements Fulfilled: