Intercultural Studies

Nothing develops intercultural competence like a high-quality, immersive experience abroad. At CIEE, we know that students are far more likely to fully appreciate a culture when they can analyze and discuss it with teachers and mentors throughout their stay. That is why this form of intercultural learning is woven into our programs, establishing a fundamental piece of the CIEE Difference.

The CIEE Intercultural Difference is comprised of two major pillars:

  1. Our programs are designed to ensure all students participating in regular CIEE programs engage in conversation and reflection about their intercultural experience. We embed this reflection process into orientations, excursions, language or core courses, and re-entry meetings. You’ll find below details on what we include.
  2. Intercultural Communication and Leadership course. For students who want to focus more directly on intercultural studies, we offer a three-credit, semester-long course, Intercultural Communication and Leadership (ICL). Listed as a Communications course, ICL replaces the two-credit Seminar on Living and Learning Abroad (SLL). More information about ICL is listed below.
Prague, Czech Republic
Rennes, France
Toulouse, France 
Paris, France Open Campus 
Berlin, Germany Open Campus
London, England Open Campus
Rome, Italy Open Campus 
Dublin, Ireland
Lisbon, Portugal
Alicante, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Seville, Spain
Barcelona, Spain 
Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
Brussels, Belgium 
St. Petersburg, Russia

Middle East:
Amman, Jordan
Latin America:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Lima, Peru
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 
Santiago, Dominican Republic 
Santiago, Chile
Valparaiso, Chile
Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Nanjing, China
Shanghai, China
Seoul, South Korea
Hyderabad, India

Legon, Ghana
Dakar, Senegal
Cape Town, South Africa
Rabat, Morocco

Intercultural Communication and Leadership (COMM3301)

Course Description 

In this class, students develop skills, knowledge, and understanding that help them communicate and engage more effectively in the host culture as well as in other intercultural contexts. Participants explore various topics in intercultural communication in the context of their experience abroad, and they practice intercultural learning processes that they can apply when working across difference in a wide variety of contexts. Students increase their own cultural self-awareness and develop personal leadership skills to help them become more effective in an interdependent world.

Learning Objectives

Students in this course:

  • Increase self-awareness, particularly their cultural self-awareness.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the field of intercultural communication and intercultural concepts/theories and their relevance to their own experience in the host culture.
  • Increase their ability to recognize and bridge cultural gaps.
  • Develop an intercultural leadership practice that helps them translate their culture-specific and culture-general knowledge into moment-to-moment competence.

Credit Transfer Information

The Intercultural Communication and Leadership (ICL) course is comprised of 45 contact hours and three U.S. semester credits. It is listed as a Communication course and its most direct equivalent would be an advanced intercultural communication course. The course, however, is somewhat interdisciplinary in nature and the credits could feasibly be transferred into a different discipline at the discretion of the college or university. For example, in some sites the course is taught in the host language, and it could possibly qualify as an advanced conversational Spanish or French course. 

Course Instruction

CIEE’s intercultural learning initiatives are taught by resident staff in the host country and hold at least a master’s degree. Many also hold doctorates and are either natives of the host country or are expatriates with extensive experience living and working in that country. In addition, they are all experienced in working with U.S. study abroad participants. ICL instructors come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, and their particular knowledge and expertise is complemented by significant training through CIEE in intercultural communication and best pedagogical practices for facilitating students’ intercultural learning and development.

Download the ICL Syllabus

Story of Finding My Way to Paris


The embedded intercultural learning component addresses the following:

  • Culture and the Study Abroad Experience
  • How Do We Perceive the World Around Us?
  • Cultural Values and Non-verbal Communication
  • Applying the Describe-Interpret-Evaluate Method
  • Marketing Your Experience and Preparing for Departure

If you would like more information about the embedded intercultural component at a particular site or on a specific program, please contact the Resident Director of that program.