From July 23rd – 27th the city of Philadelphia and Temple University were the host for the 2023 Biennial Conference of the International Academy for Intercultural Research. From the research centre Global Minds @ Work, Dr. Joris Boonen and Dr. Tom Kuypers presented their research at this international conference, which had the theme Intercultural. Climate. Change.
The research of Joris (in cooperation with Kevin Fuchs of Maastricht University), emphasizes the importance of integrating cultural immersion into a comprehensive curriculum to effectively foster intercultural and global citizenship skills. To enhance the learning impact, investing in both pre-departure and post-arrival programs is crucial. Kevin and Joris studied how students themselves define ‘Global Citizenship’ throughout this process, how their idea of a “global citizen” changed over time, and how that definition can differ quite a lot from how we as educators define this. This mismatch was at the core of their presentation and led to an interesting discussion with the audience in Philadelphia.
The presentation of Tom, was a joint research with lector Dr. Ankie Hoefnagels and Penn State University researchers Dr. Bert van Hoof & Dr. Hyung Joon Yoon. Their research highlights that the modern workplace, facing challenges like the pandemic and labor shortages, is adapting through global talent acquisition and altering work structures, resulting in increased cross-cultural interactions. This underlines the importance of Cultural Intelligence (CQ), the ability to succeed in diverse settings. The research uncovers a positive link between CQ and Hopeful Career State (HCS), indicating higher CQ contributes to enhanced career optimism, emphasizing the need for further exploration due to national differences.
The IAIR 2023 conference was attended by intercultural scholars from across the globe, sharing their work on topics like intercultural education, intercultural competence and relations, intercultural identity, intercultural communication, and intercultural management. The interactions with colleagues provided new opportunities for cooperation, and a lot of many new insights, that Joris and Tom bring back to their research centre Global Minds @ Work.
The program organizers made sure that the conference was a cultural experience of the US and Philadelphia in its own right, with the social activities, food experiences, and a great city! Philadelphia has a rich US history, as the place were the declaration of independence was signed that founded the United States of America. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, together with City Hall, are landmarks that still recall the times of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Next to the historical legacy, Philadelphia is also home to the legendary Rock Balboa, whose iconic statue is a much visited site. To top it all off, the conference organizers arranged a visit to a MLB Baseball game of the Philadelphia Phillies. From a non-US perspective, attending this game proved to be a truly immersive cultural experience. One thing that struck both Joris and Tom specifically as followers of European sports events, is that there seemed to be no explicit rivalry between supporters of both teams. They sat next to each other, not even in separate zones of the stadium, enjoying their favourite sport together. The European soccer fans can definitely learn a thing or two from this!