A brief introduction to the theory, research and practice of intercultural communication


The course on intercultural communication offers a comprehensive introduction to the theory, research, and practical aspects of the field. It aims to impart an understanding of the importance of intercultural communication, identify the fundamental elements of culture, and apply key cultural frameworks such as Hofstede’s Cultural Taxonomies and Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck’s Cultural Patterns. Designed for learners at all levels, the course spans four sections, encompassing ten lectures and a total duration of approximately one hour and six minutes.

Introduction and Importance
The initial section, titled “Why Study Intercultural Communication?” emphasizes the necessity of understanding intercultural communication in today’s globalized society. Dr. Foeman highlights the course’s objectives and the motivations behind its development, advocating for the appreciation of cultural diversity and effective communication across different cultural contexts.

Instructors and Key Concepts
The instructors—Drs. Foeman, Thompsen, and Lawton—introduce themselves and their passion for teaching intercultural communication. Dr. Thompsen delves into the concepts of communication and culture, proposing that understanding “meaning” is central to both. Drawing from Ogden and Richards’ work, he explains that meaning is multi-dimensional, encompassing physical, semiotic, and conceptual dimensions, and is highly contextual. This insight frames communication as a process of meaning creation within cultural contexts, positioning culture as a collective of meaning-makers.

Understanding Cultural Diversity
The “Miniature Earth” video offers a vivid illustration of global diversity by reducing the world’s population to a representative group of 100 people, helping learners grasp the vast human diversity on Earth.

Cultural Building Blocks
In “Cultural Building Blocks: Part 1,” Dr. Lawton outlines the fundamental components of culture: beliefs, values, norms, and social practices. He contextualizes these concepts through funeral practices among Chinese communities. Continuing in “Cultural Building Blocks: Part 2,” Dr. Foeman shares personal experiences related to her mother’s illness and death, providing a poignant example of cultural influences on personal experiences.

Hofstede’s Cultural Taxonomies
The course then introduces Geert Hofstede’s cultural taxonomy, explained by Dr. Lawton. Hofstede’s framework includes dimensions such as individualism vs. collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity vs. femininity, and long-term vs. short-term orientation. These dimensions help analyze and compare cultural differences systematically. For additional insights, readings like “The Hofstede model: Applications to global branding and advertising strategy and research” by de Mooij and Hofstede are suggested.

Application and Comparison of Frameworks
Drs. Foeman and Lawton apply Hofstede’s taxonomies to real-world scenarios, such as cross-cultural parenting and educational priorities, illustrating practical applications of theoretical concepts. Subsequently, Dr. Foeman introduces Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s cultural patterns as an alternative framework, offering another lens to view cultural variations.

Continuing the Conversation
The course concludes with a section encouraging further exploration of intercultural communication. It provides links to additional resources, including the DNA Discussion Project, The Hofstede Center, Teaching Tolerance, and The Miniature Earth Project. Learners are invited to ask questions on the course homepage and join discussions on the Facebook page dedicated to exploring intercultural communication.

In summary, this course provides a structured introduction to intercultural communication, combining theoretical frameworks with practical examples and personal experiences. It aims to foster a deeper understanding of cultural diversity and improve communication across cultural boundaries, equipping learners with the knowledge and skills to navigate an increasingly interconnected world.

What You’ll Learn

  • By the end of this course, you should be able to explain the importance of studying intercultural communication.
  • By the end of this course, you should be able to Identify the basic building block of culture and note examples of each.
  • By the end of this course, you should be able to apply Hofstede’s Cultural Taxonomies and Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck’s Cultural Patterns in exploring how culture can be viewed and understood.



  • You will not need any special supplies to begin the course. Additional readings are suggested as part of the class.


This course will introduce you to general themes, issues and perspectives associated with the study of intercultural communication. In exploring these issues, the presenters provide a brief introduction to the topic, a basic examination of important themes of culture and communication, two frameworks for viewing culture and examples from the presenters’ research and life experience. We hope this project serves as a catalyst for thought and discussion regarding the challenges and opportunities associated with living in a diverse world.

Who this course is for

  • This course is intended for people at all levels.

Enroll For Free Now