Understand cross-cultural conflict with HC EXCEL Program


Huntington, Ind.— Did you know that shaking your head "no" means "yes" in Bulgaria and Greece? That raised eyebrows in Tonga means "I agree," but in Peru they mean "Pay me" and in much of the rest of the world means "Whoa, mama!"? These few examples, which just scratch the surface of cultural differences, illustrate why it is so common for conflicts to erupt when people from different cultures interact with each other.

Students will have an opportunity to understand cross-cultural conflicts in a brand new course (for credit or noncredit) meeting on four Saturday mornings in March. Understanding Cross-Cultural Conflict, a spring Gateway course in the Huntington College EXCEL Program, will meet from 8:00 a.m. to noon on March 6, 13, 20, and 27.

The course will be taught by Dr. Kevin Miller, assistant professor of communications, who says his Ph.D. in communication studies pales in comparison to the education he has received about communication and conflict after building a strong marriage with his Russian-speaking wife.

“Many times we see people different than ourselves as being rude or mean-spirited,” said Miller, who is in his second year teaching at HC. “When we understand principles of communication of cross-cultures we begin to realize that these differences are often misunderstandings in communication style.”

Conflicts from all parts of the world are played out on the nightly news, and this course will offer a chance to learn to "read" those conflicts at a deeper level. The principles learned will have surprising applications to conflicts in the world including conflicts between coworkers, men and women, and blacks and whites in America. Students will explore how verbal and nonverbal communication can be used to understand conflicts as well as how to transform those conflicts into constructive encounters.

Biblical perspectives on valuing cultural and ethnic diversity and on resolving conflicts between groups will be examined. By the end of the course, students will have new cultural “lenses” by which to see and understand actions that otherwise appear odd or hostile. Students will learn to become ethnographers, individuals who write with insight about other people groups. They will also be more aware of their own cultural assumptions and how those can impact relationships with family and friends.

Dr. Miller joined the Huntington College communication faculty in 2002, coming from Christianity Today magazine where he was associate editor and writer. His articles have also been published in Christian History, Your Church, Christian Reader, New Man, and Leadership Journal magazines. He was editorial associate for the academic peer-reviewed Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media and taught English and communication courses at Wheaton College (Ill.) and the University of Kentucky. He earned a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Kentucky, where he also completed an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in social theory. His dissertation, which recently won national honors, is a discourse analysis of the identity constructions of Jews in the writings of a white supremacist group called Christian Identity. Miller received a M.A. in journalism from Ohio State University, and is a candidate for a master's degree in the history of Christian thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Ill.). He holds a B.A. in English from Eastern Mennonite University (Va.), and a diploma in Christian ministries from Rosedale Bible College (Ohio).

Registration deadline for Understanding Cross-Cultural Conflict is February 27, 2004. For more information on the EXCEL Program, visit www.huntington.edu/excel or contact by phone at (260) 359-4162 or by e-mail at excel@huntington.edu.

Huntington College is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 60 academic concentrations. USNews & World Report ranks Huntington among the top comprehensive colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington College is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in Huntington, Indiana. The College is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

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Heather Barkley
Director of Communications
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