Prof. Devin Thornburg

 Adelphi University

United States


Intercultural Competence in Higher Education



This presentation will explore the history of intercultural competence in researchin higher education and the importance of focusing on the individual, interactional, and the process of competence in an institution.  A considerable amount of time, across disciplines, has been spent on sorting out intercultural competence from “cross-cultural competence”and “intercultural sensitivity,” among others.  It will be argued that the knowledge aboutinstitutional histories, structures and policies are a meaningful part in establishing an organization’s intercultural competenceand can illuminate the globalchallenges of discrimination and xenophobia in higher education.  The presentation will do two things:  1)  look at articulating conceptual models and assessments of intercultural competence in higher education and 2)  review survey results from those institutions who sought to implement intercultural competence programs. Both process- and knowledge-based models with a greater emphasis on institutional context and climate will reveal how competence involves an organization’s knowledge and policies as much as the individual’s attitudes, thoughts and actions.


About Prof. Devin Thornburg

Devin Thornburg is a Professor of Education at Adelphi University, teaching courses in psychology, culture, language and learning, always within the frameworks of social justice and human rights.  He has been involved in educational reform for three decades, writing about teacher-student relationships and roles in diverse settings.  He served as part of the leadership team of an NGO addressing the challenges of educational equity and access and has been deeply involved in collaborations with NGO’s in the U.S. and other countries all of his professional life.  For the past several years, his work has focused on the experience of immigrant students in educational settings as well as those who educate them.  His latest work is on trust in learning, having conducted research in 10 countries on 3 continents.  With degrees from Tulane, Harvard, and NYU, Dr. Thornburg is the father of two daughters who have taught him how much there is to learn in this world.