SPE 18.5 - Intercultural Communication

Department of Speech
SPE 18.5 Section TR2 (Course Code 1602)
Winter, 2008 Brooklyn College Study Abroad Program in China

Dr. Foulger

Semester Syllabus

Course Moodle Discussion Learning Space / Course Discussion Notes

Course Description

This course explores the nature of communication within and between cultures. If we are shaped by our communication, we are also shaped by the culture in which we do that communication. Our culture shapes our expectations of others, the things we assume are normal and reasonable, the way we think, the ways in which we communicate, and the things we teach our children. This class will challenge students to thing about their own cultural assumptions while exploring the ways in which these assumptions differ from those held by people in other cultures. We will do this by exploring contemporary theory of intercultural communicaiton, applying qualitative communication research methodologies to both the observation of communication in other cultures and interrogation of our own cultural experience.


Judith Martin  & Thomas Nakayama. (2008). Experiencing Intercultural Communication: An Introduction (3rd Edition).  New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN 9780073406688

Online Materials and Submissions

We will use an online class discussion/learning space called a "Moodle" to manage the class schedule and submit most or all assignments. Instructions for accessing the Moodle can be found below. Pointers to this syllabus (http://davis.foulger.net/brooklyn/winter2009/intecultural) and the course discussion Notes (http://evolutionarymedia.com/student.htm?InterculturalWinter2009) can be found there. This will be taught as a hybrid course, with Internet based activities mixed with class discussions. It is my usual practice to make my discussion notes directly available via the Internet during the class discussion. You can print them out later if you'd like. Any assignments that are due for a particular class should be submitted BEFORE the class discussion begins.

Course Schedule

The class has been planned around having 10 class discussions and a series of online assignments. Scheduling of sessions will happen during the trip, and the number of sessions may change based on class discussions and other factors. This is the general sequence of sessions. Readings should be completed BEFORE the class discussion

Session Reading Session Title
1 Chapters 1 and 10 Being Ethnographically Strange as a Tourist: A Pragmatic Introduction to Intercultural Communication
2 Chapter 2 Intercultural Communication: Building Blocks and Barriers
3 Chapters 3 and 7 Structuration and the Evolution of Cultural Differences
4 Chapter 5 Meaning, Language, and Culture
5 Chapter 6 Expressing Cultural Identity Nonverbally
6 Chapter 4 How Culture Shapes Us as Individuals
7 Chapter 8 Conflict and the Structuration of Relationships and Culture
8 Chapter 9 Maintaining Intercultural Relationships
9 Chapter 11 The Global Village and Cultural Expectations: Living in an Intercultural World
10 Chapter 12 and 13 How Strange was this anyway? Your Intercultural Education

Learning Objectives

  1. Students should have a theoretical and practical understanding of how cultural similarities and differences are rooted in communication events and practices.
  2. Students should be able to recognize cultural similarities and differences such that they can overcome their own cultural assumptions, understand and tolerate the assumptions of others, and successfully interact with members of other cultural groups
  3. Students should understand how they can plan for and adapt to ensure the success of their intercultural interactions.

Outcomes Assessment

  1. 10% Participation in Class Discussions. I expect there will be 10 such discussions during the trip.
  2. 10% Submission of Questions based on the course readings. Each student should submit two questions based on each set of readings before the class at which those readings are due..
  3. 20% Submission of Think Assignments assigned over the course of the trip. Each student should respond to any think assignment provided before the class at which it is due.
  4. 10% Contents of a Journal/Blog that the student should maintain over the course of the trip.
  5. 25% A final paper that discusses your experiences in the context of Intercultural communication
  6. 25% Exams, including the final exam

Instructions for Accessing the Moodle Discussion/Learning Space

  1. Point your web browser at http://messageecologies.com/ed
  2. Click on "Login" at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Press the "Create New Account" button in the right column of the login screen.
  4. You'll be asked to fill in a series of fields that include your user ID, password, e-mail address, location, etc. Fill them in as accurately as you can. Remember your userid and password. You will need them to log in again.
  5. When processing of this page completes you will be sent an e-mail at the address you specify. Open that e-mail and confirm your registration by pressing the confirmation link in the e--mail.
  6. When you submit this page you will enter the moodle environment. If you see a button marked courses, press it. You will see this course (Intercultural Communication Winter 2009) listed. Select the course.
  7. You will be asked for a key. It is "china28".

Course Rules

  1. Attendance is required for all class discussions. Punctuality is much desired.
  2. Complete reading assignments, questions, and think assignments prior to coming to class. Be prepared to discuss readings.
  3. Write in your own words. Reference the ideas you use to the original sources. Plagiarism and cheating will are unacceptable.
  4. Unexcused late papers will be penalized 1/2 of a letter grade if one period late and one full grade thereafter.
  5. If you have a problem in the class I encourage you to contact me as quickly as possible. Note, in particular, that I will not grant an incomplete for the course unless you talk to me about it in advance or I am aware of conditions which would make it impossible for you to do so.

Good Advice

  1. A lot of this course will be based on your observations while touring China. It will be a good idea to have a notebook and pencil or voice recorder with you all the time. Your notes will be useful when you are writing your journal or responding to think assignments.
  2. The reading and writing load for this course is shouldn't be particularly challenging. Readings will average around 30 pages a session. There is only one major writing assignments, but they are linked and will be set up by lots of little assignments along the way. Keep up with the little assignments (readings, questions, think assignments, and journals) and you'll do fine..
  3. Keep a copy of everything you submit, just in case the original gets lost.
  4. Write your name on the front of any assignment you submiton paper. There shouldn't be many of those
  5. Maintain backups of your assignments in a reliable and convenient format. USB flash drives work on just about all computers now, can be readily obtained for less than $20.00, and are much less likely to fail than diskettes. Assume the worst. Maintain two backups (e.g. two USB drives).
  6. If at any time you find yourself confused or have questions, especially in terms of the writing assignments, please ask me (either in class or in private) for help. One person's question may help countless others during class discussions.
  7. Please speak with me confidentially if you have a disabling that may require some accommodation in class. I'm here to help.

Plagiarism and Cheating:

I have caught a number of students attempting to pass off other people's work as their own. Such behavior is unacceptable in any classroom, and I won't accept it in mine. My usual practice will be to zero any assignment on which a student has been found to be cheating and consult with the department chair on what other actions may be appropriate. Examples of cheating include duplicate test answers (test answers should always be in your own words) and presenting someone elses words or ideas as if they were your own. There should be an indication of who the original author any time you use someone elses words or ideas). Any time you use their words directly the quote should be set apart with quotation marks or a block quote indicator. Where, in the course of writing a term paper, you present the ideas of others, you must indicate where they came from with a reference. This is true even when you have stated the ideas in your own words or if the ideas or their sources seem obvious. I encourage you to look at and cite content from a wide variety of sources, but the content of your term paper should be in your own words.