The UBC Intercultural Understanding Mid-Level Strategic Plan

As promised to Heads and Directors, the working draft of The Intercultural Promise has been put into a 20-minute overview (video above). The Executive Summary and Final Draft of The Intercultural Promise, can be downloaded below:

Intercultural Understanding Exec Summary May 2014

We have completed the development of the plan, and are currently working on the creation of a website where much of the mid-level will live. Implementation is already underway in many units.

Info sessions and presentations are being made all across the Vancouver campus. For more information or to arrange a presentation in your unit, please email Joanna Yang at


The Intercultural Promise:
Intercultural Understanding Strategic Plan (UBC Vancouver Campus)
Executive Summary

Prepared by Alden E. Habacon
Updated May 2014

The University’s commitment towards intercultural understanding is a response to a unique opportunity at UBC Vancouver (UBCV) to be a genuinely intercultural learning and work environment, contribute to the human wellbeing of the campus community, and fulfill the University’s social obligation towards intellectual diversity.

The intercultural understanding mid-level strategic plan, The Intercultural Promise, introduces the conceptual framework and working definitions for the University’s overall approach towards intercultural understanding, and outlines the strategic framework and goals specific to UBCV. This includes the framework for engaging faculty, staff, students and alumni around intercultural understanding, related leadership and staff development, interfaith initiatives and measuring progress. The working draft builds upon UBCV’s unique context, its intercultural assets, and outlines an open framework of six strategic goals, developed through an extensive needs assessment and consultative process with staff, students and faculty.

UBCV is already a culturally diverse campus, strategically positioned with many assets. Being a diverse campus is not UBCV’s challenge, nor is it sufficient as a goal. Contrary to common belief, experience and research show that being on a diverse campus and having regular contact with diversity does not necessarily produce intercultural understanding in students, faculty and staff. Rather, intercultural understanding is the product of intent and design.

UBCV’s Intercultural Assets & Opportunity

  • Student body and alumni: highly diverse and possess high expectations for intercultural experiences;
  • Promising place: UBCV is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam People, surrounded by culturally diverse communities, and situated on and highly connected to the Pacific Rim;
  • Great degree of expertise and experience: much success in internationalization of students, cultural exchange and international programs, and many existing academic, administrative and cultural centres with expertise in intercultural understanding and related fields;
  • Faculties with high levels of commitment and enthusiasm towards intercultural understanding, with a diverse range of world-leading researchers and experts in areas related to intercultural understanding, and teachers who are passionate and experienced in integrating intercultural understanding into the learning experience.

The Conceptual Framework

To make intercultural understanding more concrete, intercultural fluency is being introduced to describe what this strategic plan aims to cultivate in UBC’s students, faculty, staff and alumni. The term “intercultural fluency” is the derivative of two familiar ideas: academic fluency and “cultural fluency”, and describes the development of intercultural awareness and interpersonal capacity in students, faculty, staff and alumni. The overall aim of this mid-level plan is to establish an organizational foundation from which a collective vision for an intercultural campus can emerge.

The Strategic Framework and Goals

This mid-level plan outlines two sets of strategic goals: the first set address the root issues at UBCV around intercultural understanding; the second set of goals identify what is required to normalize and institutionalize intercultural understanding into UBCV. Faculties, departments and units are invited to concentrate on 1 to 2 strategic goals, per set, varying on their needs, assets and constraints, in a staggered sequence.

  1. Foster a culture of dynamic interaction;
  2. Build capacity for courageous conversations;
  3. Establish intercultural understanding
    as classroom content;
  4. Support faculty vision for excellence;
  5. Tighten connections between expertise and experience; and
  6. Leadership and staff development.

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