Student Report on Teaching Intercultural Citizenship in Universities

Reported by Vicky Yongkun Wu, Class of 2026

This talk is part of the Third Space Lab presentations with Irina Golubeva on “Should we teach intercultural citizenship at universities, and what do students think about this?. The program is broadly associated with research projects related to languages, cultures, and intercultural communication.

The research talk delivered by Dr. Golubeva concentrated on teaching intercultural citizenship in universities and students’ perceptions of the problem. Introduced by the host, Prof Chiocca, Dr. Golubeva is the Professor and the Director of the Master’s Program in Intercultural Communication at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (USA). Her research interests include but are not limited to the development of intercultural competence and multilingual awareness, internationalization of Higher Education (HE), and conceptualization of active intercultural citizenship.

The talk was organized in four parts, an introduction, a brief overview of intercultural citizenship education, students’ perceptions of intercultural citizenship, and pedagogical applications (examples from HE projects provided), with references and the Q&A session following up.

In an increasingly globalized and mobile world, study-abroad programs and cross-cultural communications advance around the globe. According to Dr. Golubeva, intercultural citizenship can be claimed as an outcome of participation in overseas programs, which further leads to the debatable theme of students’ civic growth. Dr. Golubeva proposed that intercultural citizenship education should be addressed in a more systematic way at universities, in which cultural diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice should be enhanced. In fact, in her book Intercultural Competence for College and University Students, Dr. Golubeva has discussed the question in depth.

To provide a brief theoretical overview, Dr. Golubeva proposed a definition of intercultural citizenship education (ICitE), “education that facilitates the development of values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and critical understanding necessary for one to be able to interact with people from other (lingua)cultures in a multicultural community, both locally and globally, in a democratic and interculturally competent way.” Some may further wonder why the project applied the term “intercultural citizenship” instead of other possibilities like “global citizen” and “international citizen.” On that note, Dr. Golubeva provided several reasons. First, Intercultural Citizenship Education is grounded in the theory and the pedagogy of intercultural (communicative) competence. It is an applicable term in academia. Second, in Dr. Golubeva’s view, intercultural citizenship assumes competence that can be learned culturally instead of taking it as an embedded nature. On the other hand, global citizenship bears little connection to education specifically and informs a broader range. Therefore, addressing the pedagogy of cosmopolitanism requires scholars to apply “intercultural citizenship” rather than any other seemingly synonymous term.

To highlight the importance of the project, Dr. Golubeva even provided axioms of intercultural citizenship education and measure standards for learners’ level of active engagement classified into pre-political (engage with others primarily to self-reflect) and political (engage with others to facilitate change). Furthermore, Dr. Golubeva engages the audience by encouraging them to reflect actively on the role of higher education. She highlighted that it is the universities’ responsibility to provide a humanistic and instrumental education. Skills should not be taught without the supplement of liberal arts education. Values, attitudes, and criticality should be delivered by the institutions.

In regards to students’ perceptions, one of Dr. Golubeva’s research found that most university students react positively towards intercultural citizenship. However, a majority of students (70%) were familiar with the term “world/global citizen” rather than “intercultural citizen.” The majority of the 174 respondents considered the necessity of becoming an active citizen.

In the talk, Dr. Golubeva mentions three models of pedagogical applications in the current stage, education for intercultural citizenship, pedagogies of discomfort, and arts-based methods. In the age of COVID-19, a project explores trauma and suffering during the hard period through virtual exchanges in language and intercultural communication courses and channels the discomfort caused by the crisis using arts. Social events like Black Lives Matter and the SARS protest in Nigeria are also chosen by students to research the topic.

Dr. Golubeva has provided new insights into the topic of intercultural citizenship, a reality that is particularly prominent at DKU, a Sino-US university that wishes to advance intercultural education.