University of West Georgia (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 6748-6757
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Effective management of cultural diversity is critical for any business operating in the 21st century. Addressing the management of cultural diversity in the United States is challenging for academicians. The geography, demographics, media, and educational system of the United States have served to insulate and isolate students from other cultures much more than in, for example, Europe. It is quite possible, in fact, the norm, for many college students to live their lives without ever setting foot in another country. It is not necessary for daily living or work for students in the United States to be conversant in a language other than English. They may rarely interact with people from other countries. Such an insular environment has many negative consequences. United States students cannot afford to ignore cultural diversity issues at this point in time. Furthermore, exposure to cultural diversity has the ability to enhance quality of life immensely. Rapidly changing demographics, emphasis on global business, altered immigration patterns, and the role of the Internet in business have made the business climate much more culturally diverse and familiarity with that diversity critical. Ideally, students should have the experience of actually traveling in and experiencing other countries and diverse cultures. However, a number of students are first-generation college students and do not have the economic ability or the initial desire to engage in such travel. One option is to bring other countries to the students through courses such as one being offered in the Richards College of Business at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia. In that course,entitled Managing Cultural Differences, being taught Fall 2011, students will "travel" to other countries through various means--video, maps, music, food, books, movies, history, newspapers, guest speakers, business case studies, etc. Segments will be developed involving various countries reflecting diverse cultures. The idea is to provide as total an immersion as possible in other cultures without actually leaving the classroom. Ideally, students will have much greater awareness and interest in other cultures through this course. Additionally, the course will also be linked to our study abroad programs in that segments will be developed on countries that our study abroad students will be attending in the next year. Hopefully, the course will stimulate student interest in and participation in study abroad programs. The author will use personal travel experiences and materials to illustrate cultural principles. The model may also be useful to academicians seeking ideas as to how to use travel to teach.