Students participating in simulated international negotiations.

Intercultural competence is essential for professionals seeking internationally focused careers.

Rather than focus solely on communication skills, we emphasize overall intercultural competence—helping you to actively understand and possess qualities that contribute to effective communication among people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Cultures are structured aspects of human behavior in social life, in national and local contexts (e.g., political, linguistic, economic, institutional, professional). They are composed of ideologies and worldviews, practices and actions, participation, and communication. Intercultural competence involves a meta-level ability to recognize and analyze patterns and relationships.

Intercultural competence has three primary attributes—knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The development of intercultural competence is an ever-changing dynamic process.

Intercultural Competence Committee

The Intercultural Competence (ICC) committee is made up of current faculty, staff, and students. With an emphasis on intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes, they focus on curriculum and assessment, preparing students for domestic and international immersive learning experiences, and cultivating partnerships across campus and beyond.

Since 2016, the ICC committee provides an Interculturality Pre-Departure Training for all students participating in January term (J-term) immersive learning experiences abroad. The training includes discussions of case studies, storytelling, translating and interpreting, key intercultural concepts, and ethics in relation to interculturality during the students’ immersive learning experiences. After students return from their immersive learning experiences the committee surveys students about their intercultural interactions and takeaways from the experiences.

2018–2019 Committee Members

  • Netta Avineri, Associate Professor, TESOL and Teaching Foreign Language, ICC Committee Chair
  • Chetna Aggarwal, Student, Translation and Localization Management
  • Jason Blazakis, Professor of Practice, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies
  • Lisa Donohoe, Curriculum Specialist, Custom Language Services
  • Alexandro Gonzalez-Calvillo, Student, Joint MPA/International Education Management
  • Michel Gueldry, Professor, Language Studies
  • Jacolyn Harmer, Professor, Translation and Interpretation
  • Sabino Morera, Associate Professor, Language Studies
  • Jennifer Peck, Academic Coordinator, Custom Language Services
  • Noraya Razzaque, Student, International Education Management
  • Lyuba Zarsky, Professor, International Environmental Policy

Intercultural Competence Course Work

Improving intercultural competence is central to all degree programs at the Institute, and students take courses taught in their chosen language of study and courses in intercultural studies. Each year, a distinguished group of faculty teach these courses.

Sample courses:

  • Introduction to Intercultural Competence
  • Trust across Cultures
  • Intercultural Group Dynamics
  • Persuasion in Politics
  • Intro to Conflict Resolution

Intercultural Competence Specialization

Students who want to build on their intercultural studies can choose to add the Intercultural Competence Specialization to any degree. The curriculum is designed for those interested in leadership careers in diverse international contexts.

New Student Orientation

Dr. Netta Avineri provides a “Language and Interculturality” session for all new students. Students can share where they are “local” and discuss their approaches to issues around empathy, community engagement, and ethics. We explore the tensions and dilemmas that can arise during multilingual and intercultural interactions—between participation, observation, and documentation; between being an insider and an outsider; or between being humble and being an expert. We also discuss intercultural and multilingual scenarios and our approaches to them as a way to prepare for intercultural interactions at the Middlebury Institute and beyond.

Contact Us

Contact Associate Professor Netta Avineri, chair of the Intercultural Competence Committee, with any questions.