Our Curriculum

Our curriculum offers a rigorous, research-based approach to developing intercultural competence and university-level writing skills among both international and domestic undergraduate students. This curriculum meets all of the Introductory Composition at Purdue Course Outcomes while also developing students’ intercultural competence.

The Transculturation in Introductory Composition curriculum is pillared by four pedagogical interventions:

  • A linked-course model that pairs mainstream writing classes enrolled by mainly domestic students and L2/multilingual writing classes enrolled by mainly international students.
  • A multicultural reader which invites students to explore controversial themes and concepts across different cultural contexts.
  • A research-based writing assignment sequence that requires a significant amount of collaboration between international and domestic students, prompting in-depth, thoughtful intercultural inquiry.
  • Reflective writing that asks students to connect university contexts and in-class learning, supporting assessment of intercultural competence development.

We have published several documents designed to share the curriculum in depth in CILMAR’s HubICL repository: an instructor manual, implementation guide, and online course delivery plan. We have also collated sample materials for those interested in adopting our approach.

Your questions and feedback about these materials are always welcome.

Research-Based Writing Assignment Sequence

Case Study Report: For the first project, we pair one domestic student with one international student. Students conduct secondary research about their peer’s home culture and fieldwork research through peer interviews and peer observations, resulting in a sociocultural profile. This project raises awareness of the potential stereotypes, misconceptions or hasty conclusions about a representative coming from a particular culture or community. Here, we emphasize how research and analysis help  to understand a person more comprehensively.

Cultural Inquiry Project: This project requires students to investigate an unfamiliar cultural phenomenon in a culture different from their own. For this project, students further develop their  research skills by writing a research proposal, compiling an annotated bibliography, and finally, by reporting their findings in a research report. This project increases students’ cultural sensitivity in evaluating and interpreting cultural phenomena.

Digital Remediation Project: In the final assignment, students remediate their second project, the Cultural Inquiry Project in a digital format using tools such as InDesign or WordPress. For this project, students employ multimodal materials including texts, pictures and photos, graphs and charts, audios and videos. This project  develops students’ rhetorical and multimodal literacies to exhibit sensitive content in a different medium for a different audience.

Reflective Writing: Throughout the semester, students complete four reflective journals on course themes and related experiences as well as an end-of-course reflection.

Key to our curriculum is a series of team-taught lessons wherein both linked courses meet together. Our paired instructors come from different cultural backgrounds, thus modeling intercultural collaboration.

Multicultural Readings

Listed here are the readings we use throughout the course:

Mueller, G. H. (2008). The new world reader: Thinking and writing about the global community   (2nd Edition). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company

  • Ilan Stavans “Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language”
  • Azar Nafisi “The Veiled Threat”
  • Richard Rodriguez “Family Values”
  • Lizette Alvarez “Arranged Marriages Get a Little Reshuffling”
  • K. Oanh Ha “American Dream Boat”
  • Kofi Anan “In Africa AIDS Has a Woman’s Face”
  • Bharati Mukherjee “American Dreamer”
  • Chang Rae Lee “Mute in an English-Only World”
  • Fouad Ajami “Stranger in the Arab-Muslim World”

Abusalim, A., Bilikozen, N., Ismail, T, and Sayed, S. (Ed.) (2012). Where I stand: The center and the periphery. London: Pearson Education.

  • Orhan Pamuk “My First Passport”
  • Amin Maalouf “On Identity”
  • Judith Ortiz “The Myth of the Latin Woman”
  • Helena Hodge “Learning from Ladakh”
  • Chitra Divakaruni “Live Free and Starve”
  • Edward Hall “The Arab World”
  • Poranee Natadecha Sponsel “Individualism as an American Cultural Value”
  • Tomoyuki Iwashita “Why I Quit the Company”
  • Ibon Villelabeitia “In Jordan … Hip Speak Arabizi”

Articles and other book chapters:

  • Anzalduá, G. (1987). How to tame a wild tongue. Borderlands: The new mestiza = La frontera (1. ed). San Francisco, Calif: Aunt Lute Books.
  • Lu, M.Z. (1987). From silence to words: Writing as struggle. College English, 49(4), 437.
  • Pratt, M.L. (1991). Arts of the contact zone. Profession 91, 33-40

Brief Overview of Research Base

Our project draws on the intercultural competence scholarship of M.J. Bennett, J.M. Bennett, and D.K. Deardorff. We align our curriculum and associated research with the Bennett & Bennett Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (1986; 1993) and with the intercultural competence assessment practices articulated by Deardorff (2006; 2011).

Reflective writing — a critical component of both the pedagogical and research structure of this project — supports the meta-cognition needed for growth in writing skills (Yancey, 1998) as well as development of intercultural competence (Feng, 2016).

Our project is an example of an internationalization-at-home model (Nilsson, 2003) for writing program internationalization. Often, internationalization is the province of study abroad programs or professors who do international work. In contrast, an IaH model integrates the internationalization process into an entire program or university, and leverages diversity already present on campus to improve the intercultural development of the entire community.

Further, our curriculum design follows the principles set forth in the NCTE/Council of Writing Program Administrator’s Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing.


Bennett, J. M. (1986). Modes of cross-cultural training: Conceptualizing cross-cultural training as education. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 117–134. https://doi.org/10.1016/0147-1767(86)90002-7

Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience (pp. 21–71). Yarmouth, Me: Intercultural Press.

Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/0147-1767(86)90005-2

Deardorff, D. K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3), 241–266. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315306287002

Deardorff, D. K. (2011). Assessing intercultural competence. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2011(149), 65–79. https://doi.org/10.1002/ir.381

Feng, J. B. (2016). Improving Intercultural Competence in the Classroom: A Reflective Development Model. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 27(1), 4–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975930.2016.1172540

Nilsson, B. (2003). Internationalisation at home from a Swedish perspective: The case of Malmö. Journal of Studies in International Education, 7(1), 27–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315302250178

Yancey, K. B. (1998). Reflection in the writing classroom. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press.