INFO 281-02
INFO 281-14
INFO 281-15
Intercultural Communication (2-Units)
Fall 2021 Syllabus

Dr. Debra K Buenting

Telephone: 719-685-0829
Skype: dkbuenting 
Office Location: Virtual
Office Hours: Monday - Saturday by appointment 

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 19th 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 25 - October 19, 2021. This course will begin on August 25th.

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 Tuesday midnight except the final project, which we shall discuss.

Discussions 400 points)

This course requires weekly reflective discussions based on course materials and informed by lectures and readings. Discussion threads are designed to create a learning community where students wrestle with course content, demonstrate knowledge, and learn from each other. Each discussion is worth 50 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 quality and extent of participation. Initial posts should be 150-200 words. Your first post should be made by Saturday of each week for full credit; all threads close the following Tuesday evening.

Cultural visit or globally focused documentary reflection (150 points)

This assignment satisfies learning objectives 1, 2, 3, & 7. The culture of a group exists in part “to organize and coordinate their actions, activities, and social relationships” (Lustig & Koester, 2013, p. 31). Therefore, attending an event of a culture other than your own can be so educational.

You have two options:

  1. Visit a gathering of your chosen culture. This could be a religious service, community meeting, cultural event or another formal or informal get-together. There you will pay attention to cultural beliefs, values & communication styles. Afterward, you will write a report of 3-4 page double-spaced).
  2. Watch a documentary about a culture you are interested in. This option is available if you are constrained from making an in-person cultural visit due to the pandemic, fires or other limiting factors. You can suggest a film or watch one listed at and write a reflection. As you watch a film, it is hoped you will experience the culture and gain insight into and understanding of the people and issues featured. There you will pay attention to cultural beliefs, values & communication styles. Afterward, you will write a report of 3-4 page 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 of the film and write a critique of the film from an intercultural perspective (4-5 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 (4-5 pages double-spaced).

Final paper (275 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.

Course Calendar



Tasks & Readings

Assignments/Class Schedule


Aug 25-31



Intercultural Communication: An Introduction


Intergroup Engagement

Read the syllabus


Print the Course Calendar


Locate your copy of the textbook


Read chapters 1-2


Work through module content for Week 1

  • Familiarize yourself with the course shell


  • Make initial post to Discussion board (DB) by Saturday


Sept 1-7

Culture Shock & Intercultural Adjustment Patterns


Acculturation Process & Intergroup Contacts

Read chapters 3-4


Work through module content for Week 2


  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Declare choice of Cultural Visit plan or Globally-Focused documentary by midnight Tuesday.


Sept 8-14

Intercultural & Intergroup Com Competence


Cultural Value Dimensions & Intercultural Encounters

Read chapters 5 & 6


Work through module content for Week 3

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


Sept 15-21

Mindful Intercultural Verbal Communication

Read chapter 7


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 22-28

Mindful Intercultural Nonverbal Communication

Read chapters 8


Work through module content for Week 5

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


Sept 29-Oct 5

Understanding Intergroup Perceptual Filters, Biases & Communicative Distance


Attending to Intercultural-Intercultural & Intergroup Conflict Issues

Read chapters 9 & 10


Work through module content for Week 6

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Turn in Cultural Visit or Globally-Focused documentary by midnight Tuesday


Oct 6-12

Intimate Relationship Development


Read chapter 11


Work through module content for Week 7

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday




Oct 13-19

Becoming Ethical Intercultural Practitioners & Improving Communication Practices

Course Wrap-up

Read chapter 12


Work through module content for Week 8

  • Make initial post to DB by Saturday
  • Turn in final project by midnight Tuesday
  • Submit SJSU SOTE Course Evaluation
  • Submit (optional) Course Feedback to Dr. Deb in Canvas


Discussion board participation (50 pts X 8 weeks)           400 points

Film critique or Cultural interview                                      175 points

Globally focused documentary reflection                          150 points

Final paper                                                                         275 points

TOTAL POSSIBLE POINTS                                            1000 points

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 journeys, forming an online community that makes for challenging and rewarding experiences 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. Explain & articulate aspects of personal identity.
  2. Compare & contrast various cultures to self.
  3. Use course principles to educate & serve various communities.
  4. Demonstrate ability to communicate with culturally diverse people.
  5. Exhibit Cultural Literacy based on principles & mindfulness.
  6. Identify & analyze cultural values, beliefs & norms.

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:

  • Ting-Toomey, S., & Dorjee, T. (2018). Communicating across cultures (2nd ed.). The Guilford Press. Available through Amazon: 1462536476arrow 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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