Intercultural Citizenship: Making a Difference in Communities and Organizations

The Covid-19 pandemic, anti-immigration populism, and anti-racism protests have all brought more attention to the responsibility we have to each other as members of changing local and global communities. We are faced with the choice of either retreating to our roots in segregated primate hierarchies or creating new forms of cooperation. This course will pursue the latter choice by applying the concepts and practices of intercultural consciousness to responsible and intentional group membership.


Learning Objectives

  • Build on constructivism 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


Target Audience

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.


Course Description

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.



Prior participation in courses offered by either Bennett or Castiglioni in any venue (in situ or online university course, training program, or workshop) that covered the topics of constructivist intercultural communication and the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS).



Ida Castiglioni

Ida Castiglioni Ph.D. 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.


Milton Bennett Ph. D. 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, 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​ )