AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

AFCLC Faculty Enhances Introduction to Cross-Cultural Communication Course

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team
  • AFCLC

In response to the Department of Defense and Air Force guidance to provide cultural education and awareness to the enlisted corps, the Air Force Culture and Language Center offers participants in the Community College of the Air Force program a distance learning course, Introduction to Cross-Cultural Communication, to provide knowledge and skills associated with cross‐cultural communication in an applied context.

Recently, the CCC course received major enhancements from course instructors Dr. John Miller, Adjunct Instructor and Dr. Susan Steen, professor of record for CCC and AFCLC’s Faculty and Region Division Chief.

“Our goal in updating the course was to refresh the material,” Dr. Steen said. “We wanted to include some recent and emerging constructs, theories and approaches in the fields of intercultural and cross-cultural communication, and to incorporate some contemporary examples and ‘real-world’ scenarios to make the course as interactive and dynamic as possible.”

The course refresh came at an optimal time amid significant changes and shifts in the Department of Defense and around the world. The new version of the CCC course officially launched in the spring of 2021 and enrolled in its first pilot class in the fall of 2021.

While a revamping of the course was necessary to accelerate learning, the overall goals of the course remain the same. The course is designed to meet the following needs on cross-cultural competence in the Total Force:
• Goal 1: Become familiar with the leading concepts and skills of cross-cultural communication.
• Goal 2: Provide an opportunity to practice cross-cultural communication skills in a variety of contexts.
• Goal 3: Instill a sense of the importance of competent cross-cultural communication in both personal and professional settings.

The updated course includes several innovative revisions to further help the Airmen and Guardians who enroll to meet these goals. Some of those updates include revised instructional narratives, a reduction in the number of lessons, and new required readings and videos.

“In the new version, students read excerpts from books and articles by such luminaries in the intercultural and cross-cultural fields as Dr. Janet Bennett, Dr. Milton Bennett, Dr. Gert Jan Hofstede, Dr. Jack Condon, Dr. James Neuliep, Dr. Mitchell Hammer, Dr. Stella Ting-Toomey, and Dr. Leeva Chung,” Dr. Miller said. “Students are also introduced to the work of the psychologist and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Daniel Kahneman, and his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, winner of the 2012 National Academies Communication Award for Most Creative Work. In pertinent and highly readable excerpts from his book, Dr. Kahneman helps our students to understand the differences between mindful thinking and intuition.”

The updated version of the course is still fairly new, but it is already seeing positive results.

“We have noticed that students seem better able to analyze intercultural conflict situations and explain what has caused the dissonance. There has also been a significant increase in enrollment from a year ago when the last version of the course was launched. This is great news!” Dr. Miller said.

Since the pilot offering of the updated course, additional enhancements have been made for the next session.

“In this new version of CCC, students will also get to see two 30-minute video lectures by a legendary scholar, the late Dr. Gary Weaver, who was a pioneer in the field and the first to use the Iceberg Metaphor of Culture. In addition, students will read excerpts from his book on U.S. culture, which he co-authored with Adam Mendelsohn,” Dr. Miller explained. “Students also learn the origins of such timeworn metaphors used to describe American culture like ‘the Melting Pot’ and newer ones, such as ‘the Salad Bowl,’ ‘the Mosaic,’ and ‘the Cookie-Cutter.’ They will also get a unique look at the collectivist values of the ‘Fertile Verge,’ America's frontier as described by the late Daniel Boorstin, former Librarian of Congress.”

In the future, the course instructors will continue to study student discussion board posts, assignments, quizzes, and the final exam and institute any necessary changes to add clarity and depth to the concepts and skillsets presented in the course. They also plan to add more interactive content, such as avatar-driven and scenario-based situational judgment exercises.

“We’re always on the lookout for content that would strengthen the course and enhance students’ understanding of cross-cultural competence mindsets and use of cross-cultural competence skillsets. Stay tuned!” Dr. Steen said.

This education course is offered by Air University to enlisted members of the U.S. Armed Forces participating in the CCAF Program. It fulfills three semester hours of academic credit, which can be applied to Resident or Institutional credit and/or Program Elective credit requirements for the CCAF Associate of Applied Science degree. Additionally, this credit will fulfill core requirements of CCAF’s Military Technology and Applied Sciences Management (MTASM) degree, which is projected to launch in FY2023.

The summer 2022 Session Enrollment Window for CCC opens April 12 ‐ 18, 2022, and the course will take place May 5 ‐ Aug. 17, 2022.

For more information on the CCC course, visit https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/AFCLC/courses/Cross-Cultural-Communication/ or contact the Student Support team at afclc.enroll@us.af.mil.

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