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International Communication | SIS

About Skills Institutes

The skills institutes constitute a distinctive feature of the IC Program. They are intensive weekend workshops that allow students hands-on experiential learning. Distinguished scholar-practitioners and professionals in the field design these workshops and provide IC students with a unique set of skills applicable to the communication field. 

Listed on this page are our current Skills offerings and a sampling of past Skills Institutes.

For all SIS skills institutes for the current or upcoming semester see: 

http://www.american.edu/sis/skillsinstitutes/

Current Skills Institutes

Developing Budget Models for International Education Programs

Instructor: Leeanne Dunsmore

Dates: 3/28 and 3/29

How do you construct financial models in support of an international educational initiative? How do you build a budget model for an exchange program, a dual/joint degree program or study abroad models and leverage existing institutional resources in support of your initiative?  The institute will present a number of different funding models and provide students with the skills needed to construct a viable financial plan for developing an international program initiative.

Culturally-Responsive Program Analysis

Instructor: Amanda Taylor

Dates: 2/28 and 3/1

Although it is becoming common knowledge that culture powerfully shapes and structures human experience, many global initiatives designed to combat poverty and inequality in developing nations and underserved communities remain staunchly Western in their approaches. In this institute, we will learn how to do this work differently, with an eye towards increasing program effectiveness as well as promoting social justice. By adopting a culturally-responsive approach, we will go beyond just taking culture into account in developing social programs. Instead, we will learn how to co-create program goals, structures, implementation plans, and evaluation metrics that emerge from and resonate with the cultural and community contexts they are designed to support. We will begin by critically considering why culturally-responsive programs are not standard practice, asking questions about power relations while also examining our own reflexivity. We will then learn the foundational principles of cultural responsiveness, drawing on and analyzing illuminative case studies from the international education and development fields. Finally, we will practice implementing these skills by designing (or re-designing) our own culturally-responsive programs, drawing from our previous field experiences or fleshing out original program ideas.

Digital Diplomacy

Instructor: Arturo Sarukhan

Dates: 1/30 and 2/6

In our contemporary era, the nation-state has lost the monopoly of international power and information and is no longer the sole entity that determines how countries and societies relate to one another on the world stage. From Syria, the Arab Spring, ISIS, WikiLeaks or climate change, it is evident how the use of social media has created a forum for informal and direct dialogue and where passive and hierarchical schemes of international engagement and interaction have totally vanished. With the rise of technology and social media, the fragmentation of actors influencing foreign policymaking is eroding the traditional role of the executive branch of any nation in conducting diplomacy, and therefore governments and their foreign policy establishments must adopt new, more responsive diplomatic tools. Offered by the first ambassador accredited to Washington to start "tweeting" in an official capacity, this interactive skills institute will teach students how to plan and implement a digital dimension to a comprehensive diplomatic strategy.

Past Skills Institutes

Creative Arts and Intercultural Conflict Resolution

A two-day workshop to prepare students for professional oral presentations including their graduate practica, this course covers effective use of PowerPoint and other media, presentation structure and delivery, styles of communication, and the processing of audience feedback. Students give a prepared presentation to the class and instructors provide immediate feedback and coaching.

Crisis Public Diplomacy

In times of international crisis, public diplomats often serve as first responders bearing two vital responsibilities: to reactively inform concerned publics of facts on the ground and to proactively shape public perceptions so that events may be seen in a certain light. This course introduces students to the high-stakes environment of managing crises under the intense scrutiny of international audiences. Under the guidance of experienced facilitators using simulations based on real events, it develops appreciation for the advantages and challenges of dealing with a multiplicity of actors with access to information in real time, and the increased frequency of private-public collaborations in crisis management.

Designing Intercultural Training Programs

This hands-on skills will focus on the design of intercultural programs to enhance and develop intercultural understanding, communication and competence. Students will be expected to develop and critique training program materials and curricula for practical application in such settings as schools, business, government, non-profits, and in international contexts. Emphasis will be placed on programs for multicultural as well as substantially mono-cultural contexts. In addition to interpersonal and intercultural skills, and the development of training materials, the class will briefly touch on evaluation as integral components of effective program design.

Inequality, Inequity and International Education

"International education can as easily be an instrument of antagonism as one of benevolence, one of manipulation as one of cooperation, and it can as easily involve complete isolation as it can constant interchange" (Smart, 1971, 442). In this course we will critically consider the goals, design, and experience of international and intercultural education. Using case studies, this course will examine the role that race,class, and power play in international education and will focus on how identity,institutional biography, and culture structure interpretations and interactions in cross-cultural contexts.Students will gain the frameworks and skills necessary to design and implement culturally-responsive international and intercultural education programs. Designed for prospective international trainers,program managers, and educators, we will focus on the educational arena but this course will be broadly applicable to anyone planning to work in diverse environments.

Intercultural Training and Facilitation

What does it mean to be a "trainer"? What are the skills necessary to be effective with diverse populations, including children? Effective intercultural training must first be effective training. This course will review the unique combination of skills necessary for effective and responsible intercultural training with an experienced practitioner and provide participants with an opportunity to work on training designs for a variety of intercultural training challenges.

Taking Stock of Impact & Outcomes: Intercultural & Int’l Education Program Evaluation and Assessment

"Studying abroad changed my life." As intercultural & international education professionals, we appreciate this sentiment. But as the field has matured, we've recognized the need to understand the impact and outcomes of our work in more concrete terms. Designed for program managers and other practitioners in the field, this course will provide participants with an overview of program evaluation and assessment, including qualitative and quantitative methodologies, project types and rationales, and reporting strategies. Participants will review case examples and design an evaluation plan for a sample program.