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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Multicultural vs Intercultural

Carol and I used Multicultural in our MOOC title. As I read further to get a better sense of this word, I was amazed and impressed by the different ways these words are used.  Many use them interchangeably.  However, others insist that there are differences, but I’ve not found much consistency in the differences.  Kymlica speaks of multicultural states vs inteculltural citizens. My husband, Gautam, who wrote an article on Interculturalism (see link in MOOC) that interculturalism is more dynamic, while multiculturalism is more static. 

My interpretation of the word comes from my mathematical viewpoint, with “multi” meaning “many.” Among the participants of this MOOC, we represent many cultures. In this MOOC, we have an opportunity to interact on the topic of creativity. We can learn from each other, but we certainly need to be sensitive to the fact that we listen with different perspectives. As the article in our MOOC readings suggests, communicating in a multicultural environment enhances our creativity. I have certainly found this to be true through my work with international students.  But, lack of sensitivity can also lead to unfortunate misunderstandings.

I offer the definition of culture from Milton Bennett in the slide for today as a theme for our time together over these next 13 weeks: “the learned and shared values, beliefs and behaviors of a group of interacting people.” May we share with each other and learn from each other through our interactions over these weeks.  It will enrich all of us.

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