Developing an Eye for Otherness: Perception and Intercultural Consciousness

Intercultural consciousness is the underlying condition of intercultural sensitivity, cultural and intercultural competence, Cultural Intelligence™, and Intercultural Viability™. Whatever academic or marketing term is used to refer to it, the basic condition of intercultural consciousness is one that focuses self-awareness, meta-cognitive agility, and emotional resilience on adapting successfully to cross-cultural and multicultural environments. This course outlines how to coordinate the practical application of a constructivist paradigm, a developmental model, and coherent activities in training and education programs, towards the end of guiding ourselves towards a new evolutionary adaptation.

This is the core course of the IDRAcademy curriculum. This course, or an equivalent course taught by Dr. Bennett elsewhere, is a prerequisite for most other IDRAcademy courses.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn a brief history of traditional and scientific knowledge paradigms, enabling an understanding of both the lure of traditional approaches to “otherness” and the necessity of using a new paradigm to address that issue in the future.
  • Recognize the limitations of “trait-based” models of intercultural competence and explore the alternative approach of conscious perceptual development
  • Understand the dilemma resolutions that fuel movement through the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
  • Identify appropriate methods of assessment of constructivist intercultural training
  • Consider how intercultural consciousness can be applied to issues of multicultural diversity, racism, equity, and inclusion.
  • Learn the three principles of constructivist-based intercultural training and how they translate into specific topics and methods



Most approaches to intercultural training have emerged from a post-modern, or relativist paradigm. In addition to making the crucial assumption of cultural relativity, a post-modern paradigm rejects claims of objectivity and criticizes the use of power in the service of dominant worldviews. Now, in an ironic turn of events, post-modernism is also being used to justify “alternative facts” and the unapologetic imposition of them on others.

To avoid enabling this abuse of relativism and to adapt to current social conditions, intercultural education and training needs to adopt a more constructivist set of assumptions. For instance, culture should not be considered as something people have, but as something people do. Intercultural communication should not be about understanding difference so much as creating new forms of meaning. And intercultural competence should not be a set of traits; it should be the exercise of a particular form of consciousness.

This course will present a coherent set of assumptions and techniques that can guide the development of intercultural consciousness in education and training in both both academic and organizational contexts.

Intended for:

Intercultural educators and trainers (including particularly those that use DMIS-based measurements), administrators of intercultural development programs in educational, corporate, and agency contexts, and other advanced professionals with an interest in developing new skills in this area. Pre-course reading is available for prospective participants unfamiliar with intercultural constructivism.


Venue & Cost

The course will be held at IDRInstitute office in Milan, Viale Zara 58.  Cost is € 1200 (10% discounts for SIETAR, IAIR, FORUMEA, IAIE, and AFS members OR 15% discount for taking also the Embodied Culture: Discovering the Feeling of Self and Other in Cultural Context). Cost will include materials, coffe breaks, lunch each full day and one group dinner. Course begins at 9 am on Wednesday, May 3rd and ends on Friday, May 5th at 5 pm (3 full days). For this course we recommend arriving the day before and leaving the day after the course.


Dr. Milton Bennett is a senior faculty member of IDRAcademy and an adjunct member of the Faculty of Sociology at University of Milano Bicocca. During nearly two decades at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis and Portland State University, he facilitated and administered the “Intercultural Communication Workshop” (ICW), which is one of the first, most sophisticated, and most validated intercultural training programs in the field. His well-known constructivist model of intercultural development (DMIS) is partially derived from the ICW experience, and it continues to inform training design and assessment to this day. In the following two decades Dr. Bennett designed and conducted intercultural training for global business and international/multicultural education in the USA, Western and Central Europe, and Asia. He has been on the executive development faculties of the Stockholm School of Business, Tuck/Dartmouth School of Business, Motorola University, Boeing Leadership Center, Eni University, and currently, the Global Leadership Program.

In addition to his updated text, Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: Paradigms, Principles, & Practices (Intercultural Press), Dr. Bennett has contributed several articles to The Handbook of Intercultural Training, 3rd Edition (Sage) and 4th Edition (Cambridge), Multicultural America (Sage), The International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication (Wiley), and the Cambridge Handbook of Intercultural Communication. He also has recently authored chapters on the topics of Hate (The Psychology of Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism: Praeger) and Suppression of Consciousness (Indoctrination to Hate: Praeger). His educational background includes studies in physics and literature for a BA from Stanford University, an MA in psycholinguistics from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication and Sociology from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.