By Adriana Avila | News Reporter

Saint Mary’s has a new graduate program coming in Fall 2018. The Master of Arts in Intercultural Communication (MAIC) program is one that will help students develop intercultural communication skills through research and immersive international experiences. This program will prepare students to communicate effectively in the globalized world that we live in today.

The origins of this program began in 2015 with a Jan Term travel course to Japan. Makiko Imamura, Associate Professor of Communication, and her colleague Aaron Sachowitz taught the course “Culture Clash”. In this class, students studied “how the tradition and modern development coexist, how Japanese society negotiates its relation to the U.S. in the post WWII era, and how Japan is maintaining or shifting its relation with the neighboring countries,” said Imamura. On the trip, Imamura noticed and commented that “students went through an accelerated process of cultural shock, ultimately ending the course with the realization that their American norms and standards were not the universal guidelines for behavioral processes or cognitive patterns.” She also added, “Observing cultural differences was one thing, but being able to articulate their analysis of why people do things in a way they do enhanced their acceptance of difference and understanding of their own identity. So, we wanted to create a program of an advanced study that emphasizes on intercultural experience.” This ultimately led to the creation of the MAIC program.

Students who are a part of this program will be prepared for a variety of career paths such as tourism, international business, human resources, and foreign affairs. When asked about the goals of the program, Imamura said, “The program aims to achieve a couple of goals: development of intercultural communication competence and awareness through content courses and international experience; and the ability to investigate intercultural challenges and provide solutions to these challenges through research training.” Having a strong understanding of intercultural communication is a necessary skill to have in and out of the workplace. “Nobody has a prescribed template to master this kind of skill set. So, it is important that we develop self-awareness, capacity to understand different perspectives, critical evaluation of our ethical obligations, and tenacity to call to action,” said Imamura.

In addition to teaching “Culture Clash” in 2015, Imamura was a recipient of the Early Career Award, a faculty award that recognized her dedication and passion for the field of Communication. Currently, Imamura is the program director of MAIC. When asked what it is like to be the chair, she said,“Without students yet to join the program, much of my work as the director has been administrative. Most of my work has been put toward advertisement and recruitment efforts, but also I’ve been working on curriculum development with the faculty teaching in the program. I’m very much looking forward to meeting with the first cohort of students and start conversations about how they want to engage in the multicultural society and what problems they seek to act on through research.” In terms of expectations and applicants, Imamura commented on the goals for the first year of the program. “We are looking at a cohort of 13 students,” he said. “We are also hiring a program manager who will be in charge of the development of international study abroad and domestic internship programs along with other duties.”

For those interested in learning more about the program, head to the Saint Mary’s website, type in “Master of Arts in Intercultural Communication,” and click on the “Learn More” link.

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