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Reasoning about the value of cultural awareness in international collaboration

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Author(s): Helena Bernáld | Åsa Cajander | Mats Daniels | Cary Laxer

Journal: Journal of Applied Computing and Information Technology
ISSN 2230-4398

Volume: 15;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Cultural awareness | international collaboration | open ended group projects | professional skills

ABSTRACT
As international collaborations become a part of everyday life, cultural awareness becomes crucial for our ability to work with people from other countries. People see, evaluate, and interpret things differently depending on their cultural background and cultural awareness. This includes aspects such as appreciation of different communication patterns, the awareness of different value systems and, not least, to become aware of our own cultural values, beliefs and perceptions. This paper addresses the value of cultural awareness in general through describing how it was introduced in two computer science courses with a joint collaboration between students from the US and Sweden. The cultural seminars provided to the students are presented, as well as a discussion of the students' reflections and the teachers' experiences. The cultural awareness seminars provided students with a new understanding of cultural differences which greatly improved the international collaboration. Cultural awareness may be especially important for small countries like New Zealand and Sweden, since it could provide an essential edge in collaborations with representatives from more 'powerful' countries.
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