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Developing critical intercultural competence through understanding the location, product and processes of dialogue

Pilcher, Nick; Zhou, Vivien Xiaowei



Melodine Sommier

Anssi Roiha

Malgorzata Lahti


The idea of ‘intercultural competence’ (ICC) has been beset by tension between training models presenting culture as understood through ‘nation’ based constructs, and counterarguments disparaging such models as reductive and othering, dividing national groups rather than promoting ICC. Consequently, educational projects to nurture students’ ICC often face an ‘either – or’ issue regarding the encountering of situations and events along an essentialist / non-essentialist axis. To date, dialogue has been championed to promote ICC yet little work critically analyses how dialogue is (and can be) taught, framed, and reflected upon in teaching ICC, particularly vis-à-vis the essentialist / non-essentialist tension. This chapter attempts to add insights to current explorations in this area by sharing our approaches to ICC teaching. First, we present a conceptual framework to understand and frame dialogue in ICC, drawing on concepts developed by Mikhail Bakhtin (see Bakhtin & Holquist, 1981, Bakhtin et al, 1986), David Bohm (1996), and Martin Buber (1947) to consider the location and context; the product, and; the processes of dialogue. We then illustrate this framework through extracts from students’ reflective journals about their experiences of ICC. Finally, we discuss how we use these extracts to help students in ICC critically both at the levels of conceptualisation and practice.

Online Publication Date Nov 25, 2022
Publication Date 2022-11
Deposit Date Nov 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 26, 2024
Publisher Routledge
Book Title Interculturality in Higher Education: Putting Critical Approaches into Practice
Chapter Number 2
ISBN 9781032345390
Keywords Dialogue, Intercultural Competence, Bakhtin, Buber, Bohm
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