Recent developments in our societies bring about an increased sense of urgency and desire for the ability to create and sustain peaceful relationships. This website is the result of an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional collaboration funded by AGREC, with the goal to contribute to positive, peaceful societal change locally and globally by way of nurturing linguistic and communicative diversity, honing “global mindset“ defined as “the ability to perceive, analyze, and decode behaviors and situations in multiple cultural contexts and to use that insight to build productive relationships with individuals and organizations across cultural boundaries” (Cabrera & Unruh, citing Mansour Javidan, 2012, p.33). We seek to approach this goal by leveraging the case study method in the foreign language classroom to develop intercultural communicative competence.
The case study method originated during the inception of the Harvard Business School in the early 20th century, when business was not yet an academic field and educational materials were not available. Faculty members set out to remedy this shortcoming by interviewing leading business professionals and writing detailed accounts of the dilemmas they faced and what they were doing to address them. In the FL classroom, recounting real decision dilemmas, case studies present an effective experiential learning tool to better prepare students for the demands of a global life and work environment and foster their foreign language communicative skills at the same time (e.g., Frederico, 2010; Gonglewski & Helm, 2013; Martin, 2020). Case studies, as conceived here, are applied pedagogical tools that place students at the center of difficult decisions, forcing them to wrestle with the complexities, ambiguities, and uncertainties confronted by real or fictional decision-makers (Franke, 2011).
They can range from role play simulations (where the student interacts within a “world” defined by the instructor), decision-forcing cases (where the student solves problems based on the information provided), or vignettes (short written or visual stories where students respond to). (In that sense, case studies as defined here are distinct from “global simulations” in the sense of Levine (2004).)
Our vision for our students is to help them towards a deeper understanding of the varying viewpoints locally and globally and develop a differentiated and interculturally competent approach to real-world conflicts and communicative situations. We desire our students to not only grow their foreign language and culture skills but employ analytical and critical thinking skills at the same time by wrestling with complex situations while engaging actively with the target language and considering the cultural consequences.
Our long-term vision for our project is to create a community of practice, instructors of all levels and languages and across institutions, who are passionate about graduating interculturally competent citizens with a global mindset that contribute to a peaceful society, and who a committed to developing and implementing the case study method in their classroom.
Developing intercultural communicative competence and a “global mindset” in students by
- Exposing students to real-world dilemmas and decision-making
- Fostering their foreign language skills
- Engaging students with intercultural and global issues