International Education Seminar (Focus: Film, Photos & Empathy: Challenging the Single Story) [CRN 83302]

Discipline: International Education
Instructor: Lawson
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1410
End: 1530
Field Work: Day 2 | December 12, 2019 | Costa Rica
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

As the renowned film critic, Roger Ebert said, “Movies are the greatest empathy machine in all the arts.”

Whether you are a first-time traveler or are a global nomad, you will be welcome in IE 492. This course is designed to use film and photography to expand your ability to empathize with those from other cultures. An eclectic mix of regionally relevant films, documentaries, photo collections, and articles will help you prepare for ports. One of the goals of the course is to help you recognize, and respond more effectively to moments of cross-cultural misunderstanding, as well as to foster moments of deep connection during real-life encounters in the communities visited.

Recognizing the prevalence – and the need to mitigate the impact – of ethnocentric thinking, will help increase your “intercultural competence” (IC) so you are better able to postpone judgment, increase curiosity and interact more effectively and appropriately with those from different cultures.

The class atmosphere will be a blend of challenge and support, wherein you will discover your own intercultural assumptions, biases, and abilities via a progression of group exercises, assignments and photo projects. Understanding that cross-cultural faux pas are inevitable and that we often learn best from mistakes, you will be encouraged to share, after each port, your own intercultural stories of success, and of failure, with the class.

Field Work

Country: Costa Rica
Day: 2
Date: December 12, 2019

Costa Rica has experienced economic growth, political stability and a dramatic reduction in the rate of poverty over the last few decades, but there are still marginalized communities not sharing in the Pura Vida lifestyle.

Students will meet with Marysela Zamora, a vibrant young Costa Rican entrepreneur/pro-social business leader. She is the founder of Fabrica de Historias, a production company that works to empower women in the arts, and of Nosotros – Women Connecting.

Marysela, and possibly a few team members, will travel to Puntarenas from San Jose to meet with the class and to conduct a workshop. They will introduce students to some of the ways they use empathy to address cultural differences when helping young women from indigenous and Afro-descendent communities pursue expanded educational and life opportunities.

Learning Objectives:
1. To examine the economic and environmental progress Costa Rica, a small, but environmentally rich nation, has achieved and to consider how it might be replicated in other countries.
2. To recognize that the rewards of such progress are rarely distributed evenly throughout societies, and to learn about one organization’s effort to improve access to opportunity to those still living in poverty and/or marginalized communities.
3. To explore the unique, inclusive and empathy-based approaches used by the organization, Nosotros, to tailor their work to fit the culture of the communities they serve.