Global Italia: An Online Intercultural Communication Orientation for the University of Washington

Elizabeth S. Singh, SIT Graduate Institute


Global diversity trends show that global leaders in today’s world need to work on five cross-cultural competencies. These five competencies include: (1) understanding the worldwide political, cultural, and business environment from a global perspective; (2) developing multiple cultural perspectives and approaches to personal interactions; (3) being skillful at working with people from many cultures; (4) adapting comfortably to living in different cultures; and (5) learning to interact with international peers as equals, rather than from a superior-inferior stance (Ting-Toomey, 1993, p.3). Global Italia (GI), an online orientation to Intercultural Communication (ICC) for University of Washington (UW) students studying abroad to Italy, is a collaborative and dynamic approach to ensuring the skills necessary for students to succeed as global leaders. GI will provide students the opportunity to explore various aspects of intercultural communication as it relates to Italian and American culture. It is an essential orientation for cross-cultural learning in supporting students to refine their skills in cross-cultural observation, adaptation, and communication. The theoretical foundations used to develop the structure and curriculum of the orientation is grounded in Intercultural Communication (ICC), Transformative Learning & Self Authorship, and Online Learning. Through student reflection and curriculum content in Global Italia, students move through various levels of cultural self-awareness and understanding that might otherwise be missed.