Promoting Intercultural Engagement: Developing a Toolkit for Staff and Students in Higher Education


  • Marita Grimwood Independent
  • Mark Dunford University of Brighton
  • Pilar Teran University of Brighton
  • Nita Muir University of Brighton



Intercultural engagement, intercultural communication, curriculum internationalisation


This ‘on the horizon’ paper describes and reflects on the development of an intercultural engagement toolkit for academic staff in Higher Education Institutions, for use across a range of disciplines. Higher Education in the UK is continuing to grapple with two aspects of an internationalising sector: increasing numbers of non-UK students (HESA, 2015) and the need to prepare students for a globalised society (Guimaraes-Iosif, 2011). Academic staff are often uncertain about how to engage with these forces in their curricula (Barker, Hibbins, & Farrelly, 2011). While they have different levels of awareness of issues and theories relating to internationalisation of the curriculum, even those with high levels of international experience can be unsure as to how to implement effective changes to learning and teaching. A reflective toolkit to support academic staff was developed with funding from the Higher Education Academy, aiming to support universal processes of cultural negotiation in the context of programme teams and class groups. These resources have been developed following thematic analysis of focus groups and interviews with academics and students across a range of disciplines. Six key areas were identified as being influential: intercultural dialogue, global citizenship, positioning of the academic, design of curricula and assessment, international collaboration and communications. This paper will explore these themes and the theoretical framework which is the scaffolding for the toolkit, including the most recent literature (Killick, 2015; Leask, 2015). It also explores successes and frustrations experienced in the process, and ideas for the toolkit’s future development.

Author Biographies

Marita Grimwood, Independent

Marita Grimwood is a freelance Academic Developer. She has professional and research interests in internationalisation of the curriculum and supporting postgraduates as teachers. She has previously worked as Professional Development Manager (Academic Staff) and Senior Project Officer (Recognising and Rewarding Teaching) at Newcastle University.

Mark Dunford, University of Brighton

Mark Dunford is the Academic Quality and Partnership Director in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Brighton. He is also an active researcher and led the Pan European Silver Stories project (2013–2015). He was the primary contact at the University for the HEA’s Strategic Enhancement Programme exploring the Internationalisation of the Curriculum.

Pilar Teran, University of Brighton

Pilar Terán is a senior lecturer and pathway leader for Spanish language and culture in the School of Humanities at University of Brighton. She also teaches a module on Intercultural Communication. Her current work and interests are focused on language learning and intercultural communicative competence, and internationalisation of the curriculum.

Nita Muir, University of Brighton

Nita Muir is a Principal Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences. She is a qualified nurse and teaches nursing and health students, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Nita is a course leader, the international lead for nursing and midwifery in the school and is also completing her doctoral studies.


Barker, M., Hibbins, R., & Farrelly, F. (2011). Walking the talk: fostering a sense of global citizenry amongst staff in higher education. In V. Clifford & C. Montgomery (Eds.), Moving towards internationalisation of the curriculum for global citizenship in Higher Education (pp. 47-68). Oxford: Oxford Brookes Press.

Carroll, J., & Ryan, J. (2005). Teaching international students: Improving learning for all. Oxford and New York: Routledge.

Caruana, V., & Spurling, N. (2007). The Internationalisation of UK Higher Education: A review of selected material. Project Report. Higher Education Academy.

Guimaraes-Iosif, R. (2011). Rethinking citizenship education in Higher Education Institutions through the Lens of Critical Pedagogy: Education the local and global emancipated citizen. In L. Shultz, A. Abdi, & G. Richardson (Eds.), Global citizenship education in post-secondary institutions: Theories, practices, policies. (pp. 76-94). New York: Peter Lang.

Harbon, L. & Moloney. R. (2015). Intercultural and multicultural, awkward companions: The case in schools in New South Wales, Australia. In: H. Layne, V. Tremison & F. Dervin (Eds.), Making the most of intercultural communication, (pp. 15-33). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

HESA website accessed 2 November 2015.

Higher Education Academy website:, accessed 20 October 2015.

Killick, D. (2015). Developing the global student: Higher Education in an era of globalization. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.

Leask, B. (2015). Internationalizing the curriculum. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.

Leask, B. (2009) ‘Using formal and informal curricula to improve interactions between home and international students’. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), 205-221.

Leask, B. (2003) Beyond the numbers-level and layers of internationalisation to utilise and support growth and diversity. 17th IDP Australian International Education Conference, Melbourne, Australia. In: Leask, B. Internationalisation of the curriculum and intercultural engagement- a variety of perspectives and possibilities, retrieved from,%20Betty.pdf, accessed 11 September 2015.

Rasi, P., Hautakangas, M. & Vayryrnen, S. (2015). ‘Designing culturally inclusive affordance networks into the curriculum’. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(2,) 131-142.

Ryan, J. & Viete, R. (2009). ‘Respectful interactions: Learning with international students in the English-speaking academy.’ Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3), 303-314.

Schofield, Mark. (2015). Personal communication.

Volet, S. E. & Ang, G. (1998). Culturally mixed groups on international campuses: An opportunity for inter-cultural learning. Higher Education Research and Development 17. In B. Leask, Internationalisation of the curriculum and intercultural engagement- a variety of perspectives and possibilities, retrieved from,%20Betty.pdf, accessed 11 September 2015.






On the Horizon