Inter-Cultural Communicative Competence

EMU's IC3 Program for Diverse Learning Across Distances and CulturesThe Inter-Cultural Communicative Competence, also known as “IC3,” was crafted by Dan Wessner, former associate professor of international and political studies.

IC3 was launched in September 2005, after a year of planning, and concluded following the 2008-09 academic year.

Program concepts and lessons were focused on the following themes:

  • Inter-cultural – linking students across all continents
  • Communicative – teaching diverse languages and just community change
  • Competence – expanding communities of learning and empathy

Unique focus and history

The IC3 program consisted of hundreds of lessons delivered long-distance to diverse cohorts of students and was designed to include interacting with and learning from students at two universities in Vietnam. Wessner arranged for EMU students in particular to converse by computer with Vietnamese students on a regular basis at An Giang University and Can Tho University, both in the Mekong Delta.

Wessner drew from his earlier experience as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in Vietnam and his connections with Mennonite Central Committee personnel serving at An Giang University. This collaborative learning was augmented by Mr. Tran Quoc Thang and Ms. Nguyen Hoang Bich Ngoc, two Vietnamese students in EMU’s master of arts in education program.

About the IC3 student experience

As one advanced through the curriculum, developmental and cultural questions recurred, but with greater complexity. As students gained a greater fluency in another’s language, they returned to familiar development concerns, and shared with their colleagues in another land a deeper articulation of their “best answer” to shared development challenges. One of Wessner’s goals with this lesson structure was to cultivate a culture of empathy and understanding across cultures.

The 10 chapters of each level of study address: identity, water and food security, primary and reproductive health, education, poverty reduction, economic renovation at home, regional and global trade, development partners, art and culture, and globalization. Gender-related questions attach to these development concerns within each chapter and at each level.

In addition, the program’s “blended learning” courses introduced a lifelong process of combining community-based knowledge, classroom teaching and interactive web-based instruction.