December 5, 2016

New center focuses on intercultural learning, mentorship and research

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue, home to one of the largest international student populations, is launching a new center to promote intercultural competence to better prepare students for a global workforce.

"Our future is shared with others who are different in values, priorities and assumptions, and simply discussing cultural differences in food, art, language and business etiquette is not enough," said Katherine Yngve, intercultural learning specialist in the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness. "Knowledge of one's own cultural self-awareness and of worldview frameworks - skills such as empathy and verbal and nonverbal communication and attitudes, such as curiosity and openness - are key components of an interculturally competent graduate entering the global workforce."

The Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship and Research, CILMAR, will be housed under International Programs, and will be led by Michael Brzezinski, dean of international programs.

"We want intercultural adeptness, both personal and professional, to become as well-known an element of the Boilermaker identity as are technical and scientific virtuosity," Brzezinski said. "Our goal is for all students - regardless of income level, major, family background, national origin or ethnicity - to develop the ability to work effectively and appropriately with people from various cultures."

The new center will collaborate with various partners across campus, including the cultural centers, each college and the Center for Instructional Excellence. Both centers will work together to train faculty in intercultural instruction, learning outcomes and assessment.

"Our work will not replicate the work of already existing centers, but rather it will complement their work by promoting and advocating for campus-wide intercultural competence," Brzezinski said.

The center will offer intercultural training to faculty members leading study abroad programs, offer online intercultural mentoring for students who are studying abroad, support campus-wide cultural competency programs, support colleges developing global competency strategic plans and pursue large research projects with other universities, including the Big Ten Academic Alliance, to advance intercultural learning and assessment.

This fall, Purdue reported 9,303 international students, an all-time high, from 127 countries. Purdue has the fourth-largest number of international students among U.S. public institutions and is eighth among the more than 4,500 public and private institutions, according to a report issued in November by the Institute of International Education. Purdue's efforts to encourage more students to study abroad also were recognized as the university placed within the nation's top 25 study abroad programs for the first time at No. 24. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Source: Michael Brzezinski, 765-494-8549, 

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