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Intellect

New BYU Global Awareness elective has a focus on culture

Brigham Young University students understand the importance of culture due to globally focused coursework in nearly every college, frequent lectures, academic study and internships abroad and even their missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Intercultural Outreach (IAS 353) aims to help students go even further.
 
This nationally recognized course, sponsored by the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, was approved as a General Education Global Awareness elective, which means students from any major on campus may register this fall or winter to become involved more deeply in learning about culture.

“This is a course unlike others you have taken,” said BYU professor of Spanish and Portuguese Ana Preto-Bay, who calls it a “transformative experience” as students read and discuss theory, history and current events and engage in lively class discussions, panels and guest presentations to learn about the importance of culture.
 
Students have an opportunity to reflect on their own cultural values, explore frameworks for effective intercultural participation, probe commonly held views of culture and intercultural competence, develop a pedagogical approach for fostering transformative cultural contact (also known as creating “third zones” in intercultural work), and ultimately become an active agent for intercultural responsibility and change.
 
Along the way, students interact in local k-12 schools and the community at-large and develop a “CultureGuide,” an undergraduate publication, that will help them put on paper what they have been exploring, reading and learning in class.
 
Addison Jenkins, teaching assistant for Intercultural Outreach and civil engineering major from Cedar Park, Texas, sees great value in participation.

“Everyone thinks they understand culture, but this class helps you develop specific skills to build on your mission or study abroad experience,” he said. “It’s a very interesting and exciting class that will pay off down the road."
 
Jenkins finds the “CultureGuide” research and writing experience to be uniquely challenging.

“If students work hard and meet all the requirements for a top grade, they will have produced an undergraduate publication,” he said. “This is not only a feather in their cap professionally, but also it’s a great learning experience and a lot of fun.”
 
BYU’s Center for the Study of Europe provided a generous grant to help the Intercultural Outreach program retool and apply for General Education elective approval. Under Preto-Bay’s guidance, the course is positioned to be an innovative model nationally among U.S. Department of Education Title VI centers.
 
“We know the program has been successful, but we wanted it to remain at the forefront of area studies outreach both locally and nationally,” said Cory Leonard, assistant director at the David M. Kennedy Center who oversees outreach efforts.
 
Interested students may register for IAS 353 either fall or winter semesters.
 
Contact the Kennedy Center for more information at outreach.byu.edu, (801) 422-3377, or outreach@byu.edu. Intercultural Outreach is also active on Facebook, where students can learn more about class activities or find related lectures, photos or links.

For more information, contact Ana Preto-Bay at (801) 422-2176 or ana_preto-bay@byu.edu.

Writer: Cory Leonard

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