Multicultural Understanding 2735

Course Objectives

The objective of the course is to help candidates acquire an understanding of the significance of cultural differences for human relationships. The course will help students to reflect on their own concepts and attitudes in relation to how to react in various cultural contexts, and thereby strengthen their ability to act competently when interacting with other cultures.

Course Description

The course has an interdisciplinary platform in the social sciences and humanities, with an emphasis on socio-anthropological theory and on gaining insight into linguistics and communication theory. Multicultural Understanding is an introduction to the study of the global diversity of cultures and the social processes which develop in these cultures. The course will attempt to demonstrate how the organisation of social life is related to how people perceive themselves, each other and their surroundings. The course focuses on understanding the premises people have for their actions, categorisations and interactions with their environments.

Through this course, students will acquire a basic understanding of, and insight into:

- cultural variations in forms of expression

- personal values, attitudes and approaches

- concepts which are used to define and analyse intercultural situations

- important methodological tools such as participatory observation, logs and interviews

- the regions from which the cultural and communicative examples have been taken

(1) Introduction: The first part of the course will provide an introduction through examining basic scientific concepts from the fields upon which this interdisciplinary course is based. Using empirical examples from international research, students will gain insight into the most important relevant scientific theories and discourses.

(2) Methods. Students will acquire an understanding of social scientific and humanistic methods such as fieldwork and participant observation. This introduction is vital for further work, particularly in connection with the mini field projects that will be conducted at the place of study.

(3) Culture and Communication. This unit will provide the student with methodological and theoretical tools which will enable him/her to reflect on culture as a bearer of meaning in communities. Communication between people forms the basis for reciprocal cultural understanding. The course will focus on some of the basic communication theories and methods used in intercultural working situations.

(4) Society and Globalisation: The society we live in is constantly changing. This unit will consider some of the questions that may arise from increased globalisation. Through discussion groups, students will gain insight into the political, economic, cultural and ecological aspects of globalisation.

(5) Regional knowledge. Regional knowledge constitutes a very important part of the course. In this context, the main characteristics of the culture and society of the region in question will be presented through syllabus literature and film. Knowledge of the country and region – the local context – is absolutely essential, if the student is to acquire personal and academic intercultural communicative ability and understanding.

Learning Methods

The course will be taught over one semester and comprise roughly 50 hours teaching.

An obligatory mini field trip will be carried out halfway through the semester. The fieldwork will be carried out in groups in the chosen area. Teaching in methodology will be given beforehand, and guidance will be provided during the fieldwork. Results from the fieldwork will be presented the day after the submission of the work, and be assessed as pass/fail.

Assessment Methods

Midway through the semester, students will submit an individual written assignment of roughly 600 words. This will count for 40% of the final grade. The assignment question will be given to the students during the first week of the teaching. The final 3-hour examination counts for 60% of the final course grade. The fieldwork must receive a passing mark before the student may take the final examination. The written assignment and the final examination will be given lettered grades from A to F, where E is the lowest passing grade.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Birgit Norendal <>, last modified Per Esko Hestetun - 16/01/2012