HEA Seminar - Global Citizenship – opportunities and challenges

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Information about the event

This seminar will consider the present focus in HE on the development of intercultural understanding and global citizenship perspectives. Programmes and approaches which facilitate the development of intercultural understanding and global citizenship perspectives in host country and international students are of increasing relevance and importance to the aims of higher education in the 21st century. The importance of developing these programmes in full partnership with the student community to enhance effectiveness and sustainability is increasingly recognised.

Over the past 15 years a significant body of research has been built up considering the experiences of students going overseas to study, most often from the perspective of the overseas student. These include studies focusing on students’ learning, interaction between host country and overseas students, conditions which can facilitate integration of students from different cultures, the potential benefits of interaction, and the difficulties students face in developing relationships with students from other cultures, with most institutional practice appearing to assume that integration and adaptation is the responsibility of international students, and global citizenship often reflecting the unspoken or even unacknowledged assumption of ‘westernisation’.

This seminar focuses on research into the experience of students within a community environment, outside the formal classroom environment, and which includes the active participation of host country and overseas students in designing and taking part in intercultural learning experiences and opportunities for integration.


This workshop aims to encourage delegates to:

- Develop a shared understanding of the meaning of intercultural understanding, integration and global citizenship in how it relates to the HE experience

- Understand and assess the challenges and opportunities involved in embedding these concepts in practice

- Through exposure to the work in policy and practice being carried out at one particular institution (Durham University), consider how practice and lessons learned could be adapted to participants’ own environment

- Consider how student-directed and participative approaches can be supported and facilitated to be sustainable

Information about sessions and speakers

The seminar will start with establishing a shared understanding of intercultural competence, which includes the need for distance to view one’s own and other cultures, negotiating between the inside and outside perspective, flexibility, that interaction should go ‘beyond the passive and the observational … the individual is actively engaged with cultural materials and systems’ (Sen Gupta 2003). It also involves recognising that since encountering cultural difference need not be challenging in itself, it is this active engagement which makes the intercultural experience challenging, ‘when the encounter forces us to evaluate our own fundamental beliefs and values systems’ (op cit).

The seminar will then move on to explore how the research into student experience outside the classroom is used to inform the student-directed activities to encourage intercultural competence and integration among the entire student body and how these activities are evaluated to assess their effectiveness, using projects carried out at Ustinov College as case studies. This will be done through a combination of presentations considering how internationalisation and integration is (a) conceptualised by institutions and researchers and (b) experienced by students. To this end, the content of the seminar and the presentations have been designed by a working group of staff and students. Sessions will be designed to encourage reflection from all participants about how the projects carried out at Ustinov College and the lessons which have been learned through partnership working with students to develop and support these projects can be adapted and lessons learned applied to the participants’ own environment.

The seminar reflects the participatory nature of the activities being carried out at Durham, and the embedding of policy and best practice, with speakers including academic and administrative staff, students who lead and participate in the development of their own intercultural learning


There is no charge to attend the seminar, but a place must be reserved. 50 places available on first-come, first-served basis.

Durham University
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