Randolph College has a longstanding commitment to cultivating a global perspective in a liberal arts setting. Our Quality Enhancement Plan affords an opportunity to move beyond the College’s traditional commitment to global education and begin to promote intercultural competence, a more comprehensive and significant goal. Globalizing and internationalizing were popular concepts in the 20th century; the new imperative of liberal learning in the 21st century is intercultural competence, and this imperative forms the conceptual foundation of this QEP, a vision we express metaphorically in the title Bridges Not Walls. This plan is the initial step in our attempt to prioritize and implement intercultural competence, an industry standard defined as:
… the capability to accurately understand and adapt behavior to cultural difference and commonality. Intercultural competence reflects the degree to which cultural differences and commonalities in values, expectations, beliefs, and practices are effectively bridged, an inclusive environment is achieved, and specific differences that exist in your organization are addressed from a ‘mutual adaptation’ perspective.
In a Randolph College context, this will mean establishing both curricular and co‐curricular initiatives that will make it possible to achieve clear student learning outcomes, all of which promote elements of intercultural competence. The goal of this QEP cannot be to produce intercultural competence as a whole concept at Randolph College; this is too abstract and too elusive. But we can hope to identify specific student learning outcomes as defined by the broad concept and to measure some of their indicators. This interpretation of intercultural development and competence is based on work by experts in the field of intercultural communication including Bennett (1993), Chen and Starosta (1996), and Deardorff (2004). Bridges Not Walls has the following three dimensions, based on work by Deardorff (2004):