Globalization and internationalization have culturally pluralized our social environment.
Today, we face complex global phenomena in many life situations. In the light of growing multiculturalism, we face challenges not only abroad, but also within Germany, which are characterised by different cultural factors. Migration, gender debates or the co-existence of the generations can be cited as examples.
These tasks are to be solved in interpersonal co-existence at various social, institutional and private levels. In the 21st century, a competent approach to cultural complexity and heterogeneity is an indispensable part of work and everyday life.
Cultural differences are not only limited to different national cultures and their folklore traditions. Cultural differences also form within societies – for example youth culture, fan culture, generation, corporate culture or pop culture. In addition, culture not only affects visible things such as architecture and literature, food and clothing preferences, but also language, gestures, behaviour and etiquette, important values and norms, religion and world view, as well as interpretations of the world and much more
This diversity of cultural phenomena is an invaluable resource for human cooperation, innovation and educational opportunities. At the same time, it creates a potential for misunderstanding between people with different cultural imprints.
Every person sees their own environment, fellow human beings and also themselves through the lens of their own cultural socialization. This means that our words and our actions might be interpreted in a completely different way by people from different cultural environments. Whether intercultural interaction is successful depends to a large extent on the intercultural understanding and the intercultural competence of those involved.
Intercultural competence cannot be acquired in a short two-day training. Rather, intercultural competence encompasses different dimensions of personality development as well as intercultural knowledge and sensitivity.
Awareness of the fact that one’s own as well as the thinking and behaviour of others is dependent on culture, and knowledge of cultural concepts are thus as much part of intercultural competence as continually updated information on other cultures and global phenomena.
Another essential factor of intercultural competence is the willingness to continually emotionally engage in new experiences and, above all, to get involved with the individuality of other people and deal with foreign cultures. Openness, tolerance, self-reflection and an appropriate and effective ability to communicate and act are the cornerstones of intercultural competence.
Intercultural framework – Society and Institutions
Intercultural competence is not only important on a personal level, but also in social and institutional contexts: intercultural competence is more easily developed in an appropriate structural framework of conditions. Otherwise, it will be prevented by an unfavourable framework of conditions. The ability to handle interculturality in a competent manner is also attributed to institutions and societies. Questions such as how to deal with multiculturalism as a society or the diversity management of an institution are therefore just as substantial as individual dispositions.
GSiK wants to contribute to raising students’ awareness for intercultural and global phenomena by offering an interdisciplinary and versatile teaching programme. We aim to increase the ability to change perspectives and promote creative problem solving as well as basic social and communicative skills.
GSiK takes account of the described complexity by including a multitude of project members and perspectives as well as through integration of application-oriented elements and experience-based learning.
Through a wide range of courses, GSiK informs about the fundamentals of interculturality, examines global systems from various angles and provides insights into (current) subject and culture- specific topics (see GSiK areas).