Promoting Intercultural Competence at the University: First we Assess . . .
Most colleges and universities in the United States work in concrete ways to enhance diversity and to promote the positive recognition of cultural differences. At Arkansas State University, the Office of Diversity has encouraged faculty members to pursue initiatives geared toward enriching the educational experiences of students with regard to recognizing cultural differences and interacting with members of other cultural groups. One such on-going initiative sought first to assess the students' orientation toward cultural differences. A faculty member used an instrument called the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a fifty-item paper and pencil instrument that measures intercultural sensitivity based on the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), first proposed by Milton Bennett in 1986. The IDI, which is appropriate for all world cultures and is available in many languages, is a theory-based, valid and reliable instrument that can be used for individual or group analysis of intercultural development. In a pilot study, over 300 IDIs were administered to students and faculty to determine the specific needs of the institution. Future steps include a broader online administration of the instrument, the integration of study results into the curriculum, and the creation of programs tailored to the needs of the campus.
Keywords: Intercultural Development, Intercultural Competence, Intercultural Sensitivity, Diversity, Higher Education
Dr. Ruth S. Owens
Acting Associate Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Arkansas State University