Culture is a complex and fluid social phenomenon that represents a society’s shared beliefs, ideals, and objectives. Differences between societies, therefore, generate differences in culture that must be recognized, understood, and taken into account to effectively communicate across national, social, and cultural borders. Given the increasing rate of cross-cultural communication through global media, this course explores crucial questions relating to power and information, including problems of cultural imperialism, symbolic language, and local versus global perspectives.
Field WorkCountry: Belgium
We'll visit the Brussels headquarters of the European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the European Union (EU). The EC's 27 commissioners-one from each EU member country-administer the common policies agreed to by the EU members and propose legislation to the European Parliament. In this sense, the EC functions much like the U.S. Presidency, with the European Parliament and Council of Ministers serving a similar function to the U.S. Congress. After arriving in Antwerp and clearing the ship, we'll depart the MS Explorer in mid morning and travel by motorcoach to the Brussels headquarters of the EC. Shortly after arrival, we'll have lunch, perhaps in the EC dining room, then begin a tour of the headquarters, including briefings on the role of the Commission and, especially, how the Commission works to balance the needs of the EU as a whole with the individual cultural and historical requirements of the member countries. Finally, we'll meet with the public relations and communication staff of the EC for a Q&A session, exploring in detail the challenges of communicating within a culturally diverse community. We'll re-board the motorcoach in late afternoon for the ride back to MS Explorer, arriving at the ship by dinnertime.