INFO 281-02
INFO 281-13
INFO 281-19
Intercultural Communication (2-Units)
Fall 2020 Syllabus

Dr. Debra K Buenting
Telephone: 719-685-0829
Office Location:
Office Hours:
 Monday - Saturday by appointment 

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 19, 2020, at 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

This 2-unit course runs from August 19th - October 14th

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This 2-unit course focuses on developing skills for working in racially, ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse communities. It will help you identify and solve cultural differences so essential for navigating a flat world. This course is designed to give you very practical tools to understand the worldview and experiences of others, helping you become a more competent professional, no matter what your career goals.

Course Requirements


We will meet for a total of eight weeks with each week beginning on Wednesday and concluding the following Tuesday. All assignments are due by midnight Tuesday.

Discussions (320 points)

This course requires weekly reflective discussions based on course materials and informed by lectures and readings. Each discussion is worth 40 possible points. Weekly discussion participation entails reading all the posts in your group and posting at least three times each week; this includes your initial post answering the topic question, and at least two questions, responses, or dialogue with classmates. Points will be awarded based on the quality and extent of participation. Initial posts should be 150-200 words. Your first post must be made by Saturday of each week; all threads close the following Tuesday evening.

Globally-focused documentary reflection (125 points)

This assignment satisfies learning objectives 1, 2, 3, & 7 and is in lieu of not being able to make a cultural visit during the current pandemic. The culture of a group exists in part “to organize and coordinate their actions, activities, and social relationships” (Lustig & Koester, 2013, p. 31). This is why attending an event of a culture other than your own can be so educational. However, you will watch one of the documentaries listed at and write a reflection. As you watch one of these films, it is hoped you will experience the culture and gain insight and understanding of the people and issues featured. Afterward, you will write a report of 3-4 pages double-spaced. 

You have a choice for the next assignment: a Film Critique or a Cultural Interview. Here are the details of each: 

Film Critique (175 points)

This assignment satisfies learning objectives 1 & 2. You will choose an intercultural film you will watch, being careful to identify principles you are learning in the course. You will then research the background on the film and write a critique of the film from an intercultural perspective (5-6 pages double-spaced).


Cultural Interview (175 points)

This assignment satisfies learning objectives 123, & 5. Schedule an interview with someone from a culture other than your own. It is recommended this be the same group as your cultural visit and cultural overview paper, but it doesn’t have to be. You will seek to understand the attributes of the culture that go beyond the surface. As you will learn, these are the “whys” of culture that reveal beliefs, values, and social norms, or what you will come to see as “below the surface” using the iceberg analogy (5-6 pages double-spaced).

Final paper (280 points)

This assignment satisfies learning objectives 1-7 as well as core competencies C & M. Your 7-10-page final paper will be a very practical application of some aspect of intercultural communication to your chosen field. It will be the culminating expression of what you learned and how you plan to implement it in your career. This will be a semester-long project; note your topic is due week 4, and you are expected to post updates on your progress throughout the semester.

All final papers are due by Wednesday midnight of the last week. 

Final Exam (100 points) 

The final exam (100 points) that will test your knowledge of basic concepts and skills learned throughout the semester.

Course Calendar



Tasks & Readings

Assignments/Class Schedule


Aug 19-25


Why do we need to study intercultural communication?

What is communication?

What is culture?

Culture & Intercultural Communication 

Intercultural Communication Competence

Read the syllabus

Print the schedule

Locate your copy of the textbook


Read chapters 1-2

Work through module content for Week 1

  • Familiarize yourself with the course shell 
  • Introduce yourself by Friday midnight in the Discussions area.
  • Make initial post to Discussion board (DB) questions by Saturday


Aug 25-Sept 1

Cultural Patterns & Communication: Foundations

Read chapters 3-4

Work through module content for Week 2 

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Declare cultural film you will study & critique OR interview you will conduct by midnight Tuesday


Sept 2-8

Cultural Patterns & Communication Taxonomies

Read chapter 5

Work through module content for Week 3

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Declare cultural visit you plan have researched & scheduled by midnight Tuesday


Sept 9-15

Cultural Identities

Read chapter 6

Work through module content for Week 4

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Turn in film critique or cultural interview paper due by midnight Tuesday 


Sept 16-22

Verbal & Nonverbal Intercultural Communication

Read chapter 7 & 8

Work through module content for Week 5

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Declare final project topic by midnight Tuesday


Sept 23-29

The Effects of Code Usage in Intercultural Communication

Read chapter 9 & 10

Watch Little Mosque on the Prairie

Work through module content for Week 6

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Turn in globally-focused documentary reflection by midnight Tuesday


Sept 30-Oct 6

The Potential for Intercultural Competence

Course Wrap-up

Read chapters 11-12

Work through module content for Weeks 7 & 

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Take Final Exam 



Oct 7-14



  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Turn in final project by midnight Wednesday (last day of class)
  • Submit SJSU SOTE Course Evaluation 


  • Discussion board participation (40 pts X 8 weeks)            320 points

    Film critique or Cultural interview                                   175 points

    Globally-focused documentary reflection                         125 points

    Final exam                                                                   100 points

    Final paper                                                                   280 points 

    TOTAL POSSIBLE POINTS                                             1000 points

    (see grading information below)

Other Relevant Information:
A note from your course facilitator: My hope is that you will find this course both fun and informative. I look forward to sharing experiences and insights with each of you. I trust we will all grow as we share this portion of our life and career journies, forming an online community that makes for challenging and rewarding experience together.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 281 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe cultural values and communication styles among various regional groups.
  2. Identify specific communication styles including direct and indirect communication, cultural norms for making decisions and solving conflict, the role of history in creating culture, differing perceptions of power and gender roles, implications of individualistic and collective groupings, the importance of context, and other cultural influences on communication.
  3. Recognize various dominant and non-dominant co-cultures that exist in North America and other places where students live.
  4. Analyze play and workspace challenges related to culture.
  5. Practically demonstrate effective practices of listening, observing, interpreting and conversing with colleagues and clients from various cultures.
  6. Apply intercultural communication skills in adapting individual career paths and solving culture-related job challenges.
  7. Demonstrate cultural literacy in articulating world trends.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  2. M Demonstrate professional leadership and communication skills.
  3. O (For students entering from Spring 2015 onwards) Understand global perspectives on effective information practices that are supportive of cultural, economic, educational, or social well-being.


Required Textbooks:

  • Lustig, M., & Koester, J. (2012). Intercultural competence: Interpersonal communication across cultures (7th ed.). Pearson. Available through Amazon: 0205211240arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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