Intercultural Professional Development for Educators: Applying Intercultural Learning to Enhance Effectiveness




Cultural mentorship, intercultural learning, pedagogical practice, professional development


To examine the interaction between educators’ intercultural development and students’ intercultural growth, we studied the impact of CIEE’s Intercultural Communication and Leadership (ICL) course. Our results indicate that Educator, Country, Gender, and Field had impacts on students’ intercultural gains (Gibson et al., 2023); the focus of this article is solely on educators’ perceptions of the factors that shape their ability to foster student intercultural learning. Using the AAC&U’s (2009) Intercultural Knowledge and Competence VALUE Rubric to frame the 22 educator interview responses, our study indicates the tangible results of formally and informally supported educators’ intercultural professional development. As a result of educators’ intentional intercultural development, they leverage skilled pedagogical techniques to effectively bridge with students to enhance their intercultural learning. Therefore, we argue for the investment, expansion, and mentorship of faculty development, particularly with regards to educator’s own intercultural growth, in order to activate and expand students’ learning while studying abroad.

Abstract in Spanish

Para examinar la interacción entre el desarrollo intercultural del profesorado y el avance cultural estudiantil nosotros estudiamos el impacto del curso, “Intercultural Communication and Leadership”, que enseña el programa CIEE. Nuestros resultados indican que el profesor, el país, el género y la disciplina tiene un impacto en los avances interculturales de los estudiantes que estudian en el extranjero (Gibson et al., 2023); este artículo se enfoca únicamente en las percepciones de los factores que les ayuda a los maestros a fomentar el aprendizaje intercultural de los estudiantes. Entrevistamos a 22 educadores y usamos a la rúbrica “Intercultural Knowledge and Competence VALUE” (2009) de AAC&U para interpretar las entrevistas. Nuestro estudio indica que lo más significativo, para ellos, es el desarrollo profesional que se enfoca en su propio desarrollo intercultural. Con esta formación el profesorado podía usar y aplicar pedagogías para conectar con los estudiantes que efectivamente avanzaban las habilidades interculturales de los estudiantes. A causa de tal, nosotros argüimos que la inversión, expansión y mentoría del profesorado, enfocado en su propio desarrollo intercultural, es necesaria para fomentar las capacidades interculturales de los estudiantes mientras estudian en el extranjero.


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Author Biographies

Nina Namaste, Elon University

Nina Namaste is Professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Elon University, NC. Her SoTL research explores transformative learning experiences, interdisciplinary thinking skills, and intercultural development, particularly in study abroad contexts, for both students and faculty. She teaches courses about food and identity formation, and has led two semester-long experiences abroad; all of her courses focus on interdisciplinarity and intercultural development, regardless of whether they are on or off-campus.

Whitney Sherman, CEA CAPA Education Abroad

Whitney Sherman is a scholar-practitioner in the DEIB and intercultural learning spaces with experience overseeing education abroad initiatives at CEA CAPA, CIEE, the University of Southern California, and Boston University. She has taught in the intercultural competence specialization at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey and has lived and worked in Niger, France, Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania. Her past publications focus on expanding access in study abroad and nonformal learning.

Annie Gibson, Tulane University

Annie Gibson is the Director of Study Abroad and Administrative Associate Professor at Tulane University. She teaches courses in Intercultural Learning, Social Innovation and Practice, Latin American Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese. Her areas of research and publication include Cuban and Brazilian performance cultures, immigration, travel and tourism studies, and intercultural development during study abroad for both students and faculty.

Ezra Spira-Cohen, Tulane University

Ezra Spira-Cohen is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Tulane University and has worked as a Research Assistant in Tulane’s Office of Study Abroad. 


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How to Cite

Namaste, N., Sherman, W., Gibson, A., & Spira-Cohen, E. (2024). Intercultural Professional Development for Educators: Applying Intercultural Learning to Enhance Effectiveness. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 36(1), 280–311.



Research Articles