In­ter­cul­tural Stud­ies at SMU

Saint Mary’s Univer­sity of­fers a new four-year de­gree in In­ter­cul­tural Stud­ies

The Coast - Career Minded - - SPONSOR CONTENT -

Canada has long been among the world’s most lin­guis­ti­cally and cul­tur­ally di­verse na­tions. To­day, as more and more new­com­ers to Canada by­pass tra­di­tional im­mi­grant gate­ways and make their way to smaller and mid­sized cities, from coast to coast, in­ter­cul­tural com­pe­tence is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly vi­tal life and ca­reer skill for all Cana­di­ans.

“In an in­creas­ingly di­verse city, prov­ince and na­tion, the chal­lenge we are fac­ing is ‘How do we move from be­ing di­verse to be­ing in­clu­sive?’ In­ter­cul­tural com­pe­tence and cul­tural in­tel­li­gence are crit­i­cal in form­ing healthy and pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ships with mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ties, col­leagues, cus­tomers and clients,” says Jean-Jac­ques De­fert, As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor in Saint Mary’s Univer­sity’s De­part- ment of Mod­ern Lan­guages & Clas­sics, which of­fers the pro­gram.

In­ter­cul­tural Stud­ies is a new four-year de­gree at SMU, re­quir­ing stu­dents to de­velop flu­ency—lin­guis­tic and cul­tural—in cul­tures other than their own. This pro­gram is unique in Canada be­cause a ma­jor part of it is a lan­guage com­po­nent that plays into and is nec­es­sary for cul­tural un­der­stand­ing. Stu­dents will study two lan­guages be­yond their mother tongue, and learn about cus­toms and par­tic­u­lars of the re­spec­tive cul­tures.

The de­gree is in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary, re­quir­ing stu­dents to take cour­ses in other rel­e­vant fields of study—an­thro­pol­ogy, so­ci­ol­ogy, psy­chol­ogy, po­lit­i­cal science, re­li­gious, Indige­nous and gen­der stud­ies, among oth­ers. An im­por­tant part of the pro­gram is hands-on work­ing with and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures. In the pro­gram’s fourth year, class­room learn­ing gives way to ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing, as stu­dents vol­un­teer with rel­e­vant com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions in Hal­i­fax or abroad.

“In­ter­cul­tural com­pe­tence is all about bet­ter know­ing one­self, un­der­stand­ing what con­sti­tutes us as cul­tural be­ings and be­com­ing aware of our own pre­con­cep­tions so as to adapt suc­cess­fully to cul­tur­ally di­verse en­vi­ron­ments and in­ter­act ef­fec­tively and mean­ing­fully with in­di­vid­u­als from all walks of life,” says De­fert. “Grad­u­ates with an In­ter­cul­tural Stud­ies ma­jor will be bet­ter equipped to work in con­tem­po­rary mul­ti­lin­gual work­places, and bet­ter able to par­tic­i­pate in a chang­ing so­ci­ety.”

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