Intercultural Communication and Meta-Consciousness in the New Paradigm

The old knowledge paradigms of modernity and post-modernity have run their course. Like all paradigms, they allowed the construction of realities that eventually obsolesced them. Intercultural communication, founded in post-modern relativism, is on the verge of obsolescence unless it can reframe itself in the new quantum constructivist paradigm. This course clearly explicates the new paradigm and shows how interculturalists can use it to guide the development of an intercultural consciousness relevant to current social reality.

The first day of this two-day course will explore the idea of knowledge paradigms in a very practical and accessible way, with a focus on recent developments in the application of quantum thinking to everyday experience (including, of course, intercultural experience). The second day will focus on how a coherent understanding of the new paradigm can be used by interculturalists to reframe intercultural communication as the exercise of meta-consciousness (self-reflexive agency), and it will suggest how that approach can be successfully presented to clients in corporate, academic, and social service contexts.

This course (or an equivalent) is a pre-requisite for the IDRAcademy course Embodied Culture and recommended (but not required) as preparation for the course Perceptual Constructivism and Differentness.

Intended for:

Intercultural educators, trainers, and coaches; administrators of intercultural development and DEI programs in educational, corporate, and agency contexts; and other professionals who want to re-tool for a future that is already demanding new approaches to intercultural issues.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn a brief history of traditional and scientific knowledge paradigms, enabling an understanding of how these conceptual operating systems create the conditions for their own obsolescence.
  • Recognize how quantum constructivism reframes intercultural communication as an exercise of meta-consciousness.
  • Learn how to make the case for intercultural consciousness in corporate, academic, and social service/political contexts.
  •  Explore how intercultural consciousness can guide action toward inclusion, equity, and social justice in ways that transcend post-modern limitations.
  • Practice some techniques of meta-consciousness such as de-reification, passive volition, and coherent intentionality.
  • Engage in group coaching on professional applications of the new paradigm.


Most approaches to intercultural development 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, some wielders of dominant power are using post-modernism to justify “alternative facts” and the violent imposition of them on others.

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

The course makes the constructivist case that culture is “the coordination of meaning and action among bounded groups of people” and that, therefore, intercultural communication is necessarily a case of meta-coordination. It will argue that intercultural communication is a qualitatively different kind of communication that is enabled by meta-consciousness; i.e., that normal conscious communication is insufficient to manage cross-context coordination. The implication of this for interculturalists is that part of our job as teachers, trainers, or coaches is to be facilitators of meta-consciousness development.

Venue & Cost

The course will be held at IDRInstitute office in Milan, Viale Zara 58.  Cost is € 800 (10% discounts for SIETAR, IAIR, FORUMEA, IAIE, and AFS members OR 15% discount for taking also the Differentness: a new constructivist approach for Intercultural Education and Training course or the Embodied Culture: Discovering the Feeling of Self and Other in Cultural Context). Cost will include online materials, coffe breaks, lunch each full day and one group dinner. Course begins at 9;30 am on Monday, April 8th and ends at 6:30 pm Tuesday, April 9th. 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.