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IDR Institute

Sustainable Intercultural Development

Designing Constructivist Interventions

Course Description

The bane of serious intercultural development work is the desire of both clients and practitioners for a "quick fix." Clients often request cultural checklists that can be presented on-line or in one-hour presentations, and practitioners often acquiesce or propose only more information, not a substantially different approach. This course will provide the theoretical rationale and practical strategies for implementing more substantial intercultural development efforts in corporations, agencies, and NGO cooperation projects.
The opposite of "quick fix" is "sustainable." Sustainable programs are those that target long-term development of competence - learning to learn - and that seek to become self-organizing and self-perpetuating functions within organizations. In the case of intercultural development, the long-term goals are to limit the effects of ethnocentric perception and behavior, to resolve issues of unity/diversity and authenticity/adaptation, and to integrate intercultural competence into the identity of individuals and organizations. To these ends, programs can be designed to build an increasing foundation of personal competence that is periodically translated into policies and procedures, which in turn generate organizational competence that supports the ongoing development of individuals.
Sustainable programs in intercultural development must transcend the positivist notion that competence depends on access to cultural information, or even to a particular set of skills. Rather, sustainable programs need to construct consciousness of intercultural issues and competence in constructing appropriate perception and behavior for varying cultural contexts. As time passes and projects change, information and skills become obsolete. But the development of intercultural consciousness and competence remain applicable to every new circumstance.

Target Group

This course is intended for people who have completed the IDRAcademy core course, "Constructivist  Intercultural Communication: Applying the New Paradigm" or an equivalent (as determined by IDRInstitute Directors). It targets intercultural practitioners who wish to use a constructivist approach in their design and implementation of developmental programs for intercultural education and training, organizational intercultural competence, multicultural social services, and international cooperation. This course is a prerequisite for the domain-specific practice courses.


  • Understand sustainable development in terms of a constructivist paradigm and developmental educational theory
  • Recognize the necessary role of ethicality (ethical consciousness and capability) in sustainable development
  • Learn the requisites of program design for corporations, educational institutions and exchange programs, social services, international development, and other private and public organizations
  • Identify resistances to developmental and sustainable programming and consider innoculations and remedial actions
  • Consider case studies of successes and failures of sustainable intercultural programs
  • Explore applications to participants' projects

Scheduled Courses

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