Companies need interculturally competent employees to operate successfully in the diverse and turbulent environment of today’s global marketplace with big corporations as well as small and medium sized enterprises forming the backbone of the European economy. Studying and working abroad as well as cooperating in the international project teams may improve intercultural competences and communication skills of the students and employees alike and prepare them for this international challenge.
Against this backdrop 7 universities from across Europe have joined forces to develop interactive online learning material which will be integrated across university curricula with the ambition to foster development of students’ and employees’ intercultural skills and competence. This exciting project, led by consortium entitled PROMINENCE (PROmoting MINndful ENCounters through intercultural Competence and Experience), is financially supported within the framework of the EU funding initiative Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships. Over the period of three following years university partners from Aschaffenburg (Germany), Bratislava (Slovakia), Debrecen (Hungary), Katowice (Poland), Savoie (France), Seinäjoki (Finland) and Varna (Bulgaria) will collaborate to organise three Intensive Programmes (IPs). Each of these short programmes will be delivered in English to more than 50 students and lecturers from all 7 participating universities, which will total to 150 student participants across Europe included in the whole PROMINENCE programme.
Intercultural topics explored during the consecutive IPs organized within the framework of this Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project include: Languages and Cultural Diversity (Bratislava, 2018), Managing and Leading in Different Cultures (Aschaffenburg, 2019) and Practising Cultural and Emotional Intelligence across Cultures (Savoie, 2020). For each of these IPs six students per participating university receive a EU grant to co-finance their study period abroad.
Troy Wiwczaroski, the project coordinator of the University of Debrecen, explains the project’s rationale, stating that „PROMINENCE invites students to open their minds to listening to what others from different cultural backgrounds are trying to communicate to them… Learning to really listen to others is the first step to building cross-cultural competencies on their ways to a lifetime of intercultural meetings“.
The first PROMINENCE IP was opened by the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Languages University of Economics in Bratislava on Monday, March 19. “This PROMINENCE Intensive Programme is a great form of experiential learning; and it will develop and enhance students’ awareness of their own culture; their abilities to observe and interpret cultural differences objectively; their skills to manage intercultural situations; and their knowledge of verbal and non-verbal behaviour“.
One of the overarching objectives of the project is also to further develop internationalisation strategies of all 7 partner universities with most of the universities either commencing new Erasmus+ cooperation agreements or being involved in ongoing cooperation activities to support student and staff exchange within the European funded flagship programme Erasmus+. It is planned to present final project results at an international conference in Seinäjoki, Finland at the end of 2020.
Contact/Project website: www.prominence.ue.katowice.pl