Internationalisation and Intercultural Skills: Using Role Play Simulations to Build Bridges of Tolerance and Understanding

Macquarie Univesity
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Journal Article
Macquarie Law Journal, 2014, 13-14 pp. 127 - 147 (20)
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Although the notion of internationalisation does not have a settled meaning, its main theme focuses on enriching ‘the international dimension’ of the higher education experience. Internationalisation traditionally includes promoting student mobility and embedding international elements in existing curriculum. Yet, in order to achieve true internationalisation, teachers also need to consider how students develop intercultural skills. The literature indicates that it may be difficult to implement learning strategies that achieve these outcomes. In an attempt to fill this gap, this paper evaluates a project that the authors undertook, which utilised role-play simulations in order to build bridges of tolerance and understanding amongst a diverse student cohort. The project reflected an integrative approach that incorporated international elements into the existing curriculum. It was conducted in two stages, commencing with a pilot exercise in an undergraduate law subject taught to business students and concluding with a workshop designed to shed light on some of the challenges underscored by the pilot exercise. In particular, the workshop explored findings that role-play simulations were an effective tool in encouraging students to engage with each other at a disciplinary and personal level, but somewhat less effective in facilitating meaningful intercultural exchange. Both the pilot project and the workshop highlight the need for teachers to build on their role as intercultural facilitators and to innovate and explore all students’ experiences of ‘internationalisation’. Moreover, while educational institutions consider internationalisation to be one of their strengths, more work needs to be done to assist teachers in developing and implementing internationalisation of the curriculum at the subject, course and program levels.
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