Living in a digital world: Enhancing students’ intercultural awareness through global research projects
This initiative, part of the ‘Living in a Digital World’module, was designed to give students chance to undertake professional research projects within global contexts, thereby enhancing their intercultural aware- ness as well as employability skills.
Link to Education Strategy Pillars
- Intercultural and international engagement
- Embedded employability
- Research inspired teaching
for employability. Establishing partnerships with China, where manufacturing is undertaken on a much wider scale, was an innovative way of realising this ambition and giving students “real life” experiences.
For fashion students based in the UK, it can be difficult to gain first hand experience of the industry, given the limited amount of manufacturing that goes on nationally. In order to gain knowledge and understanding of the production processes, and how they connect with the fashion industry, students need to look beyond the UK and Europe.
The course team wanted to give students the opportunity to gain these insights, which are invaluable.
- As a result of these initiatives, the course team are better informed about the global fashion industry, as their work in China allows them to develop up to date knowledge of markets, and attend key events and shows. The team are also using a wider range of international images in their teaching materials. All of this supports students’ intercultural aware- ness and employability.
- Students and staff alike gain insights into working in contexts with different languages and cultures, which gives them direct experience of– and an appreciation for– what it’s like to operate in a unfamiliar environment.
- The course team were awarded a Coventry University Staff Excellence Award for Supporting Global Learning for their work in this area. In future, they are keen to host aninternational showcase with students from CUZ and other global partner institutions, an idea which would not have been possible without these collaborations.
“Doing a placement in China was perhaps the most exciting, and also most “out of comfort zone”, experience ever. The fashion industry in China is completely different to fashion here. I gained invaluable insight into the fashion and e-commerce companies in China including visiting manufacturers and working for global clients. I have developed a better understanding of a different culture, both business and social. In addition, having an international work experience has given me more confidence, boosted my CV and has opened opportunities for me.”
- Establishing and maintaining good relationships withindustrial and academic partners is crucial, as is making the most of opportunities they offer (e.g. company visits).
- Be aware of differences in communication and culturewhen working globally, and consider what your students can learn from these when designing the course.
- When supporting students with international placements, allow plenty of time for visas to be arranged, and make travel plans carefully.