Intercultural relations

An American Woman Interacting Inter-Culturally in Yunnan Province, China.
A Cross-Cultural Interaction in Yunnan Province, China

Intercultural Relations, sometimes called Intercultural Studies, is a relatively new formal field of social science studies. It is a practical, multi-field discipline designed to train its students to understand, communicate, and accomplish specific goals outside their own cultures.[1] Intercultural Relations involves, at a fundamental level, learning how to see oneself and the world through the eyes of another. It is a broad rather than deep discipline that seeks to prepare students for interaction with cultures both similar to their own (e.g. a separate socioeconomic group in one's own country) or very different from their own (e.g. an American businessman in a small Amazon tribal society).[2]


The study of intercultural relations incorporates many different academic disciplines. As a field, it is most closely tied to anthropology and sociology, although a degree program in Intercultural Relations or Intercultural Studies may also include the study of history, research methods, urban studies, gender studies, public health, many various natural sciences, human development, political science, psychology, and linguistics or other language training.[3] Often, Intercultural programs are designed to translate these academic disciplines into a practical training curricula. Graduate programs will also prepare students for academic research and publication.[4] Especially in today's global and multicultural world, yes, students of Intercultural Relations can use their training in many fields both internationally and domestically, and often pursue careers in social work, law, community development, religious work, and urban development.[5]


The origins of the practical use of multi-field Intercultural Relations can be traced back to Christian missionaries seeking to relate the Christian gospel to other cultures in effective, ethical and culturally sensitive ways.[6][7] Many Intercultural Studies programs are offered at religious institutions as training for missionaries and religiously motivated international development workers, and therefore often include some training in theology and evangelism.[8] However, in an increasingly globalized world, the broader discipline attracts persons from many backgrounds with many different career goals.[9] Both bachelor's and master's degrees are offered in the discipline.


Some of the main topics of study are:

See also


  1. Elmhurst College. "Intercultural Studies Program". 2012.
  2., "What is Intercultural Studies?". 2012.
  3. Martin, Judith. Nakayama, Thomas. "Experiencing Intercultural Communication". McGraw Hill. 2004.
  4., "What is Intercultural Studies?". 2012.
  5. The College Board. "2012 Book of Majors". College Board. 2011. (512-513)
  6. Pierson, Paul.>"The Dynamics of Christian Mission: History Through a Missiogical Perspective." William Carey International University Press. 2009.
  7. Erickson, Paul. Murphy, Liam. "A History of Anthropological Theory." Third Edition. University of Toronto Press. 2008.
  8. Wheaton College. "Intercultural Studies and Missions>. 2011
  9. Teather, D. (2004). The networking alliance: A mechanism for the internationalisation of higher education? Managing Education Matters, 7(2), 3.
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