Global Learning in a Time of Increased Xenophobia and Extreme Nationalism

nafsa logoThis is the title of an upcoming webinar that is the first in NAFSA’s Academic Programs six-part Architecture for Global Learning – Series II.  Here is a brief description:

Many institutions integrate global learning into curricula and co-curricular programming with the goal of producing graduates capable of contributing solutions to global problems. However, institutional leaders, faculty, and managers of global learning environments now face mounting anti-international rhetoric and policy.

Join NAFSA Academic Programs for the first session in our six-part Architecture for Global Learning – Series II. Listen to and discuss the perspectives of leading international education scholars and practitioners on the state of global learning as we enter a period of increased populist and anti-international rhetoric and action. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with experienced and informed global learning specialists who will answer questions of how and why extreme nationalism affects global learning. Presenters will provide their views and responses to participant questions on how to continue to support and implement global learning pedagogies and programs that are under attack.

I agree that it is a time of “increased xenophobia” in many countries but disagree that nationalism, extreme or otherwise, is anything new, especially in the US.  In that sense, the title is a bit misleading.  US nationalism, which I discuss in a 2016 University World News article entitled US nationalism – The elephant in the room and elsewhere, is nothing new and certainly didn’t begin to rear its ugly and exclusionary head when Donald Trump was elected president last November.  In fact, I have argued that the term is frequently misused by some of my distinguished colleagues when what they are actually referring to is nativism

I am pleased, however, to see that these issues are being debated. Nationalism in general and as an elephant in the room of the international education profession should be a key point, if not the centerpiece, of any consideration of intercultural competence, essentially a skill set, and global citizenship, also a mindset.  It is a discussion that should have been launched a long time ago.

MAA

 

 

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Happy 5th Anniversary, An International Educator in Vietnam!

5YearsOver 500 posts and five (5) years of relative online freedom of speech after four (4) years of working for an employer that had a pre-approval policy for its employees’ outside writing and speaking activities.

Coincidentally (?), my first post on 16 November 2009 was about a book chapter I co-authored entitled “Developing Globally Competent Citizens: The Contrasting Cases of the United States and Vietnam,” which appeared in The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence, edited by Darla Deardorff.  (The contributors to this book, including the editor, are some of most outstanding scholars and practitioners in the field of intercultural communication in the world.)

handbook of ic competenceThis chapter was mildly censored by my former employer, whose slogan, ironically, is Opening Minds to the World.  That process gave me additional insights into the control of information and knowledge by an organization with close US government ties in a country that pays lip service to the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of speech. Sadly, post 9/11 America is not your grandfather’s (or grandmother’s) America.

As a side note, I have continued to grapple with issues related to nationalism/patriotism and intercultural competence/global competence both here and offline.  They are what I call the elephant in the room of the international education profession in the US.  To ignore them, especially in the US context, is to ignore what is arguably the most daunting barrier to the development of global competence and citizenship.

I began writing An International Educator in Vietnam for myself  – writing as sharing, writing as advocacy, writing as therapy – but it has since become a resource for people who have an interest in international education in Vietnam, US-Vietnam educational exchange and/or Vietnam.  It has been a labor of love and, I believe, has lived up to its three “Is” subtitle.  Thanks, dear readers and followers, for your interest and your feedback.  Raise your glasses to another five years of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue!

MAA

Keynote Address: “Intercultural Competence as a Cornerstone of Innovation”

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I was honored to be invited to give the keynote address at the recent annual Conference of Business Innovation, organized by the FPT Leadership Institute.

First, a word about the parent company.  FPT, Vietnam’s leading technology company, was founded in 1988 as The Food Processing Technology Company.  Its first contract was  to provide computers for the Russian Academy of Sciences in partnership with Olivetti in 1989, which laid the groundwork for its IT department.  A year later, the company was renamed The Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology and the rest, as they say, is history.  In addition to its dominant market position within Vietnam, FPT’s operations are global in scope, with clients or rep offices and companies in 16 foreign countries, including Laos, Cambodia, America, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Myanmar, France, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, United Kingdom, the Philippines, Kuwait, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Keynote Address

Since my topic was Intercultural Competence (IC) as a Cornerstone of Innovation (Mối giao thoa văn hóa là nền móng cho sự sáng tạo), I started off with some comments about innovation, which is a hot topic in Vietnam.  Just in the past week or so, I’ve seen media references such as “Vietnam Needs More Innovation:  Experts” and “Vietnam Needs to Foster Innovation to Sustain Growth, Report Says.”  I added that Vietnam needs innovation to foster sustainable development, which is more far important than growth in the long-term and for quality of life.  While there are many examples of innovation occurring in Vietnam, including at FPT, a copy and paste mentality is still prevalent, including in my industry.

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During the remainder of my allotted time, i.e, one-hour, including 20 minutes for Q&A, which turned into a half hour, I briefly defined the concepts of innovation, culture, intercultural sensitivity (a mindset) and intercultural competence (a skill set), introduced the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), a framework that describes the different ways in which people can react to cultural differences organized into six “stages” of increasing sensitivity to difference, and offered an overview of a related tool that measures intercultural competence, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).  I also mentioned foreign language proficiency as an integral component of IC, discussed ways in which people can develop IC, referred to some recent research that proves overseas experience makes us more flexible, creative and complex thinkers, pointed out some ways in which the US and Vietnam differ within this context (i.e., to Vietnam’s credit and advantage) and shared some useful resources.

The US and Vietnam:  A Study in Cultural Contrast

handbook of ic competenceIn discussing the contrast between Vietnam and the US, I drew from a co-authored book chapter entitled “Developing Globally Competent Citizens – The Contrasting Cases of the United States and Vietnam” (with Dương Thị Hoàng Oanh), which was published in 2009 in The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence (Darla Deardorff, editor).  One of the points we make is that nationalism, which is predominant in the US, is a cognitive and affective barrier to developing intercultural competence and global citizenship.  In Vietnam, where national identity is rooted in patriotism, it is easier to create globally competent citizens.  In general, young people here are more open, interested and curious about the world beyond their country’s borders and are not burdened by a nationalist worldview, or ideology, which exalts one country above all.

A Great Leader of a Global Project with a Multinational Team

A “bonus” was an overview of a case study about Sir Ernest Shackleton, a Anglo-Irish explorer, who participated in four expeditions to Antarctica in the early 20th century, of which he led three:  A Great Leader of a Global Project with a Multinational Team.  The story is as much about leadership as it is about leading a multinational team.  While Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914–17 failed, he succeeded in that he and his entire team survived the tragedy. (Source:  “Intercultural Competence in Business:  Leading Global Projects,” Robert T. Moran, William E. Youngdahl, and Sarah V. Moran; The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence, ed., Darla Deardorff).

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Making a point. Photo: Hoàng Anh Tuấn

In Conclusion

Among the conclusions were:

  • IC gives you the ability to work successfully with clients around the world
  • IC can play a valuable role as a catalyst for innovation, including with multinational teams
  • IC can give you a competitive advantage in working with foreign clients and partners

Participants ask a number of excellent questions, including some of my impressions of Vietnam after living here for nearly 10 years, ways in which Capstone Vietnam been innovative, some related to IC, others not.  I was gratified to see so much interest in IC on the part of FPT.  It’s not surprising, given the company’s international operations and its focus on innovation.  Just as FPT has been a trailblazer as Vietnam’s leading ITC company, it’s exciting to think that perhaps it will be a trendsetter in this area as well.

Article in Vietnamese:  ‘Giao thoa văn hóa thúc đẩy sự sáng tạo’ (29.11.14)  If you don’t read Vietnamese, just use a service like Google Translate to get the gist.

MAA

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Americans and the Other

No, this is not a Vietnam-related post, at least not directly.  Indirectly, however, there is a Vietnam connection.  I was invited to speak to a group of US higher education colleagues about Vietnam in early February 2010 at a seminar in Washington, D.C.  During my presentation, the snow began falling right on schedule, and kept falling throughout that day and into the next in what became one of the worst snowstorms in local history.   The photo, taken near my hotel, was the inspiration for a short essay entitled Americans and the Other (PDF) that appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of International Educator magazine.

“Policies for Teachers and Educational Leaders in the Innovative Education Process”

I spoke at an  international workshop today for teachers and educational leaders, sponsored by Vietnam National University’s University of Education.   Topic:  Creating Globally Competent Citizens in Cross-Cultural Perspective.  It was a variation on one of the themes of my co-authored book chapter (see previous posting) with a focus on global citizenship education – obstacles and opportunities.  A Vietnamese translation of the chapter is available. 

If you are interested in the topics of intercultural competence, global competence and global citizenship, how they intersect and how they relate to patriotism and nationalism, please let me know.

The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence

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I co-authored a chapter entitled “Developing Globally Competent Citizens: The Contrasting Cases of the United States and Vietnam.”  The contributors to this book, present company excluded, are some of best scholars/practitioners in this field in the world. 

The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence Edited by Darla K. Deardorff, Duke University

If you would like an English and/or Vietnamese PDF version of our chapter, please e-mail me at markashwill (at) hotmail.com.