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Pre-Departure Series

An Introduction to Cross-Cultural Miscommunication

This seminar is a crash course in semiotic (meaning-making) theories of language and how they change the way we understand what happens when communication and, above all, miscommunication between people occurs. This seminar will not transform you into a semiotician by any means, but it will introduce you to a rich body of knowledge and give you a better senese of how to navigate in unfamiliar places. (Fall 2015: 10/26, 11/2, Spring 2016: 3/29, 4/4, 4/27)

Identity in Translation (What Psychology Research Can Teach Us)

In this seminar, we use the discipline of psychology to explain what decades of research on multi-cultural people can teach us about how living in other cultures affects who we are. We explore psychology studies that show that people who have lived in two cultures can actually have two separate identities at the same time. We also talk about how research on emotion regulation can give us simple strategies to help cope with the depression, isolation, and frustration that can come from being abroad. (Fall 2015: 10/28, 11/9, Spring 2016: 3/28, 4/13, 4/26)

Writing to See, Seeing to Write

Whether in an intercultural context, or just on a day-to-day basis, everyday spaces such as streets, sidewalks, intersections, and cafes prove to be rich with signification, if we can just stop for a moment and actually see them attentively. This seminar introduces some of the experimental writing techniques employed by French author Georges Perec in order to equip students to use creative writing as a means of gaining new visibility onto the everyday spaces in which they find temselves immersed. This seminar is part indoor presentation and discussion, part outdoor fieldwork. (Fall 2015: 9/25, 11/6, Spring 2016: 2/19, 4/8, 4/29)

Making and Unmaking Stereotypes

This seminar introduces the often contentious, controversial, and blurry line between concepts of stereotypes and generalizations. Most of us "know," in a vague way, that stereotypes are a source of misunderstanding and alienation between people, and that the other extreme of relativism, in which the world is infinitely particular, can be a source of paralysis and apathy. But how can one generalize without stereotyping or yielding to untranslatable catalogues of particulars? Join this seminar to discuss perspectives on and responses to this question. (Fall 2015: 11/4, 11/10, Spring 2016: 4/6, 4/12, 4/25)




During Abroad Course

Making Culture Visible While Studying Abroad

GSGS 3220 is a one-credit course in which students who are studying abroad can learn to be intentional, self-reflective, and curious in how they transact and engage across cultures. It consists of online assignments organized around methods used by anthropologists to understand different cultures and worldviews. It is designed to build on the CORE seminars and supplement a study abroad experience. Check out the Making Culture Visible While Studying Abroad course website.

Note: Tuition is charged for students who choose to take this course. Tuition costs $336/credit for Virginia residents and $428/credit for Non-Virginia residents.





Life After Abroad Series

Culture Shock --> Cultural Insight

We designed this seminar especially for people who have spent time outside their comfort zone (here or abroad), and who have stories of mishaps, missteps, and misunderstandings to tell.  If you are interested in exploring how to move beyond your shaggy dog story, insider jokes, and personal anecdotes to a narrative that is relevant and meaningful to other audiences – be it a prospective employer, academic major, or public debate, please join us! (Fall 2015: 9/14, 9/22, Spring 2016: 2/23, 2/29, 5/3)

What is Globalization?

This seminar discusses "globalization and a range of related concepts that are frequently used but much misunderstood: from global to international, modernization, colonialism, development, and so on. Our goal is to sort through the imprecision and gain a basic proficiency with these terms in order to give students a framework in which to understand and reflect on their own lived engagements, whether near or far. (Fall 2015: 9/16, 9/21, Spring 2016: 2/17, 2/22, 4/28)

Staying Abroad

Calling all international students! By popular demand, we have created a seminar for people who are or are planning to pursue a long-term career, life, and home in another country and language. We will examine issues of identity, relationships, and communication when there is no clear "return" date, and we will discuss specific challenges and alternative paradigms for your experience. (Fall 2015: 9/28, 9/30, Spring 2015: 2/16, 2/24, 5/2)