Consciousness as we understand it today is a relatively new human phenomenon – an adaptation to the rapidly changing social conditions of several thousand years ago. Now we are at another point of rapid social change, this time driven by technology and connectivity. And again our survival depends on constructing a new capability of consciousness.
One notable new form of consciousness is that of intercultural communication, which enables human beings to transcend their natural ethnocentrism and actually appreciate cultural differences. The consciousness underlying intercultural communication is far more than the mastering of of ethnographic etiquette. Central to intercultural consciousness is the need to coordinate meaning and action simultaneously and quickly across multiple contextual boundaries.
Intercultural consciousness is based on “new paradigm thinking.” In this context, “new paradigm” refers to quantum theory as it is understood in the philosophy of science and to aspects of constructivism in social science that are influenced by quantum theory. New paradigm thinking changes our focus from causality and systemic behavior to ideas that are closer to the reality of hyperconnectivity and exponential rates of change: co-ontology, probability, and expectation.
The course will establish the new paradigm of constructivism that is supplanting positivism and relativism in social science and show how it supports intercultural consciousness. The course will also show how to coherently redefine intercultural communication concepts in new paradigmatic terms, and it will explain how to facilitate the perceptual development necessary to support intercultural consciousness and its enactment as intercultural competence.
This is the core practical theory course that is a prerequisite for several more specific courses in the curriculum. It is intended for educators, human resource professionals, coaches, international cooperation and partnership workers, and other intercultural practitioners.
- Review theories of the origin of consciousness related to cultural contact and the use of metaphorical language
- Review the three major paradigms of modern science, the form they take in social science, and how they organize thinking about self-consciousness and culture
- Explore the implications of knowledge paradigms and self-reflexive consciousness for the current turning point of social reality
- Discover how intercultural communication emerged as an application of the emerging quantum/constructivist paradigm and self-reflexive consciousness
- Explore new applications of intercultural consciousness in global business leadership and in current issues such as migration and cultural identity, diversity and inclusion, and social justice.
- Establish the coherent principles that allow traditional intercultural training to also facilitate intercultural consciousness
Milton J. Bennett, Ph.D.
Dr. Milton Bennett is a senior faculty member of IDRAcadamy and an adjunct member of the Faculty of Sociology at University of Milano Bicocca. Previously he was an associate professor of communication at Portland State University, where for 15 years he taught “communication and consciousness” along with running the graduate program in intercultural communication. He currently conducts executive education seminars on the topic of contextual consciousness and teaches intercultural consciousness in various US and European venues.
Dr. Bennett is known for originating the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity and his text Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: Paradigms, Principles, & Practices. Following his life-long interest in the philosophy of science, Milton currently generates new theory and research through the Intercultural Development Research Institute (IDRInstitute), which operates in the US and Europe.
While the idea of “culture” is an abstraction, the actual experience we have of culture is a very concrete one. Borrowing a concept from Humberto Maturana, I have defined culture as “the praxis of living of a coordinated group of people.” Coordination within groups depends on people having a shared experience of everyday life in a particular context, such as a national, ethnic, or professional one. Human beings live life through their senses, both literally and metaphorically. Thus, our individual and collective embodied experience is a key concept for understanding culture. Culture frames the perceived experience of the senses in a particular way so that we give meaning, attribute value and feel emotion in resonance with groups of affiliation. This raises the issue of the construction of our cultural identity: how aware are we of the process, how conscious are we of the fact that it is inscribed in our body? Integrating multicultural identity means dealing with the dynamics of this process and framing them intentionally. This course will activate this long journey of discovery that leads to incorporating intercultural competence into one’s praxis of living.
The course is intended for participants who have attended the IDRAcademy foundation course “Constructivist Foundations of Intercultural Communication: Applying the New Paradigm” or an equivalent course (to be negotiated with IDRInstitute directors before enrolment).
Expected participants are interculturalists, counselors, educators, coaches and people with a multicultural background who wish to deepen their embodied cultural self-awareness to use it in support situations and for their own enhancement of intercultural competence.
Objectives of the course:
- Learning the evolution of the embodiment concept
- Reflecting on the construction of cultural identity and its embodiment
- Becoming culturally aware of the daily experience of the body
- Contacting resistance to alternative perception
- Understanding other people’s embodiment of culture
- Integrating body’s awareness into communication with different cultures (people and contexts)
- Learning strategies for intentionally shifting perceptual cultural framing
The course is designed like a workshop in which theoretical contents are blended with sharing of experience, physical exercises (integration of deep breathing and easy access physical movements) and individual reflections. This will be the basis for developing cultural self awareness and ability to observe oneself in working and relational contexts
Faculty: Ida Castiglioni, Ph.D.
Dr. Ida Castiglioni is a professor of the sociology of cultural processes in the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milano-Bicocca.
At UMB she is vice director and teaches the graduate specialization of Intercultural Relations in the Programming and Management of Social Services and Public Policies program.
In addition to her work at the university, Dr. Castiglioni is a therapist with a Master Degree in Somatic Psychology and a Certificate in Clinical Counseling. She is an adjunct faculty member of the Institute of Somatic Psychology in Milano (IPSO).
As societies evolve to account for mobility and multiculturalism, the idea of “citizenship” is also under evolutionary pressure. Of the three main types of citizenship – civil, political, and social – that are being debated, this course will focus on an extension of the social form that we are terming “intercultural citizenship.” It involves the complex intersection of cultural identity, consciousness, and inclusion, and the social action aimed at reducing inequity and increasing social justice. We maintain the idea of citizenship as both a quality of group identification but also a demand for civic responsibility. Building on these qualities, we define intercultural citizenship as the “conscious identification with and acceptance of responsibility for participating in one or more cultural boundary conditions that define groups of people who are coordinating meaning and action.”
Intercultural citizenship is an intentional act requiring specific competencies, a conscious mind, and an ability to see productive opportunities. Multiculturality in itself does not confer value to a society. Rather, it represents a potential value, depending on how cultural adaptation is handled: if groups adapt rather than assimilate, the potential is more likely to be realized. Facilitating inclusion in multicultural contexts then becomes a task and a role for active citizens, beyond institutionally planned projects. By realizing this we are exercising our responsibility as intercultural citizens.
The overall goal of this course is to consider innovative approaches to intervening in the social and educational efforts necessary to support viable multicultural societies. What can one do as an individual in a multicultural school as a teacher, an administrator, or a parent? What could one offer in the working place to facilitate actual valuing of diversity? What can be done in everyday interactions locally, internationally, and virtually to exercise intercultural citizenship? The discourse on power, self-awareness, and empowerment is necessary, but it is not the final step to a new ecology of intercultural mind. The course will explore innovative approaches for the activation of intercultural citizenship in practical terms, based on a coherent conceptual structure.
- Build on new paradigm concepts to enable the perception of group boundaries as constructed and mutable
- Consider conscious identification with groups (‘belonging’) as an alternative to genetic or geographical heritage
- Recognize the conscious acceptance of responsibility as a necessary constituent of active citizenship
- Explore applications to:
- facilitating civic engagement of ex-pat families and other foreign residents:
- incorporating intercultural activity as part of corporate welfare programs:
- encouraging everyday inclusion of diversity and creating intercultural participative processes in communities
- supporting intercultural diversity efforts in schools and businesses
- developing personal and professional efforts to involve migrants in mutual cultural adaptation
This course is intended for aspiring or established intercultural professionals who want to be more effective supporters of mutual adaptation in multicultural societies, including HR managers, social service administrators, community developers and other third-sector professionals, coaches, counselors, therapists, educators, diversity professionals, social operators. Former participants of other IDRAcademy courses or others and with a good grasp of constructivist epistemology will benefit most from this topical course.
Dr. Ida Castiglioni is a professor of the sociology of cultural processes in the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milano-Bicocca, where she is vice director and senior faculty in the graduate specialization of Intercultural Relations in the Programming and Management of Social Services and Public Policies program. As a consultant, she works with communities on social service, healthcare, and refugee issues, and with the European Union she conducts programs on women’s empowerment in Central Asia.
Dr. Milton Bennett is an adjunct professor of intercultural communication at the University of Milano-Bicocca and a visiting faculty member of several other European universities. He is the executive director of IDRInstitute, where he is currently engaged in researching intercultural viability in global corporations, neuropsychological correlates of intercultural development, and innovative approaches to diversity programs in secondary and higher education organizations.
Drs. Castiglioni and Bennett collaborate on intercultural research and programming for communities and have recently published a major article entitled Building Capacity for Intercultural Citizenship (Open Journal of Sociology DOI https://doi.org/10.4236/jss.2018.63016 )