Home Resources Intercultural Resources Available through IDS
Intercultural Resources Available through IDS

As part of its commitment to improving educational access for all and internationalizing and diversify curriculum, IDS has been building its library of resources dedicated to these issues. We’d like to give a brief overview of services, books, journals and DVDs available to you through IDS.

Shelley Smith is a certified administrator and Interpreter of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and can arrange for anyone who is interested, whether it is for personal, professional or course development to take the inventory. The IDI (based on Milton Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS)*) is a 50-question on-line test designed to identify the stages of intercultural development a person has “resolved,” i.e., how they have come to grips on a personal and cognitive level with the concept of difference. The results are completely confidential and can be reported as an individual or Group. The survey is not meant to be prescriptive or to put people in a “box” but to provide a point to begin a discussion about one’s personal growth and development.

*The DMIS itself presents a framework for understanding the stages one goes through when encountering cultural differences. The underlying assumption of the DMIS is that, as one is able to think in more complex ways about confronting difference in intercultural interactions and experiences, one moves through varying stages of ethnocentrism and ultimately experiences a paradigm shift into stages of ethnorelativism, leading to increasingly sophisticated understanding and behavior around the issue of cultural difference. The model involves six stages; the first three are ethnocentric, and the last three are ethnorelative.

In addition, a variety of Cross-Cultural Simulations can be facilitated by IDS including:

BaFá BaFá A Cross-Culture Simulation, by R. Gary Shirts
What happens in Bafa' Bafa'? Participants live and cope in a "foreign" culture and then discuss and analyze the experience. There are two cultures in the simulation. The Alpha culture is a warm, friendly, patriarchal society with strong in-group, out-group identity. The Beta culture is a foreign speaking, task oriented culture. Once the participants learn the rules, customs and values of "their" culture they visit the other culture. The visitor is generally bewildered and confused by the strangeness of the foreign culture. Bewilderment often turns to intolerance and hostility once the visitor returns home. "They're strange, real strange, that's all I can say. They're making funny sounds and weird gestures. Just be careful when you go over there." But in the post-simulation discussion they come to understand that there were reasons behind the behavior they observed. With this realization their attitudes change from one of hostility to understanding. Through discussion this experience is then generalized to attitudes towards other groups in the real world.

Why Use Bafa' Bafa'? The Bafa' Bafa' simulation is often used to introduce the notion of culture, intercultural interaction and culture shock. It requires about 90 minutes and a minimum of 20 participants to achieve the maximum learning results. It can help to:

  • Motivate participants to rethink their behavior and attitude toward others
  • Allow participants to examine their own bias and focus on how they perceive differences
  • Examine how stereotypes are developed, barriers created, and misunderstandings magnified
  • Identify diversity issues within the organization that must be addressed

Aid to Minorians (Adapted by Shelley Smith from Robert Kohls, Tad Edlich, Margo Kiely, and Bill Hoffman): This version of "Aid to Minorians" takes about 45 minutes to complete and can be used with a group of 15 or more. It was designed to help students in education, students studying abroad in developing countries, civic engagement participants, and health workers who could be working with nondominant and refugee populations understand the difficulties of "educating" culturally different others. It also helps identify the fine line that exists between "education" and "cultural imperialism." It raises a number of questions about assimilation verses adaptation, the ability to communicate difference in a way that promotes and reflects mindfulness and the impact of cultural values and behaviors on communication and understanding. The inclusion of different communication behaviors and cultural values are reflective of some of the real issues that arise in intercultural interactions.

Albatross: The Albatross simulation takes about 45 minutes and can be done for any sized group. It provides an opportunity for participants to observe another culture and learn about the powerful effect of underlying cultural assumptions on our perceptions of people and events. During the simulation, participants observe certain ritualistic behaviors by the members of the Albatross culture. Participants are then asked to make interpretations and conclusions about the culture. The exercise can then be used as a common experience for all participants to discuss how we should approach learning about cultural differences before we make judgments about their meaning.

Ecotonos: The Ecotonos simulation takes between 75 and 90 minutes to complete and requires a minimum of 20 particpants. It allows participants to experience the way culture is created and how it affects communication and decision-making behaviors in organizations. This simulation opens the discussion about ways of meeting the challenges diversity poses in real world tasks and helps identify strategies for communicating across differences. The simulation can help:

  • Emphasize connections between culture, communication, decision-making, and task effectiveness
  • Identify diversity concerns important to the participants
  • Develop greater understanding of the implications of that diversity
  • Develop skills for increasing effective communication across that diversity

Barnga: Barnga is a simple game that anyone can facilitate. It requires 20-30 minutes and several decks of cards. The book provides clear instructions and debriefing suggestions in Spanish, French, and German, which makes them very useful in teaching cultural dynamics in languages classes. It brings to light the difficulties encountered when the “cultural rules” vary from one place to another

The IDS library also has a variety of Books on the following subjects:

  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Discrimination and racism
  • Diversity
  • Intercultural communication/education
  • Multicultural education
  • National characteristics
  • Universal Design and Disability
  • The International Journal of Intercultural Relations (IJIR), which is the official publication of the International Academy of Intercultural Research from 1987 – present. The articles range from theoretical development, field-based evaluations of training techniques, to empirical discussions of cultural similarities and differences, and critical descriptions of new training approaches in the field of intercultural communication and study abroad.
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Last modified on 06/24/13 02:50 PM
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