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Spring 2017 - MIIS
Dec 11, 2019
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DPPG 8542 - SPR:Communicating Change World

Communication skills are of particular relevance to Development Practice and Policy (DPP) students who intend to work in diverse intercultural settings to promote social change for social justice. We believe that communication is the center point of what constitutes development (defined as furthering social justice). The communications field has traditionally been understood as public relations and marketing but in this course, we focus on identity, perceptions, listening and advocacy dimensions and how our internal landscape affects how we act, speak and listen in intercultural contexts. Many projects have failed because development has simply been understood as imitation of more developed countries and transfer of information and knowledge leading to desired changes in behavior. In this sense, communication becomes purely instrumental. It has become clear that we must pay attention to the process and intent of the communication between the varied stakeholders: the donors, recipients, government representatives, community leaders, and people who live in those communities. Thus, we would like to define communication for development as the use of communication processes, techniques and media to help people toward a full awareness of their situation and their options for change, to resolve conflicts, to work towards consensus, to help people plan actions for change and sustainable development.

International aid agencies are now calling more and more for the kinds of ‘soft skills’ that help aid workers enter new communities, to come across as human beings who are self-aware and present, who listen before talking or telling, who are also aware that communication is much more than just ‘verbal’. A central premise of this course is that communication is a whole-body experience and that it involves a dynamic and fluid interchange between a person’s internal and external environments. A second premise is that when we naturally connect with ourselves, we connect better with others and truly share practical wisdom and insights. Drawing from the Intercultural Communication literature and from the literature on ‘Whole Body Intelligence, as well as case studies drawn from both development agencies’ experiences and alumni working in the field, we will investigate how we ‘arrive’ in a new community, how we use our voice, how we listen, and how we use space. We will examine how understanding our nervous system helps us deal with conflict. We will explore our own perceptions and biases as development workers, how projections may lead to ‘othering’ and to conflict. We will investigate how the languages we employ shape the way we communicate. We will focus on our own identities, as well as how others perceive us and how identity interplays with power. We will study different modes of communication: verbal and nonverbal, as well as virtual. Art and food traditions will also be explored as significant avenues of communication, enhancing intercultural values and dialogue.


4.000 Credit hours
4.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MIIS Graduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Intl Policy & Management Division
Development Practice & Policy Department


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