Members of Lambda Pi Eta, FIU’s Communication Arts Honor Society, participated in an intercultural, and international conference on October 5, 2015 with students at Missouri State University (MSU), and Buryat State University (BSU) in Russia. The conference, “Intercultural Communication and Interdisciplinary Research of University Students” was organized and hosted by BSU and celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the university’s Department of Translation and Intercultural Communication. During the conference, students were invited to share insights and applications of intercultural communication theories and concepts with other scholars interested in intercultural communication, some of whom were thousands of miles away. This “virtual” conference was made possible through the use of Communication Arts’ Polycom teleconferencing equipment, which allowed more than 50 Communication Arts students to join the conference and connect in real time with their counterparts in Missouri and Ulan-Ude, Russia.
Elena Nuciforo, Communication Arts Visiting Assistant Professor, Lambda Pi Eta faculty advisor, and a former instructor and alumna of Buryat State University, was excited to get Communication Arts students involved when she first heard of the conference. Last summer students from all three universities were invited to submit papers centered on intercultural communication in a call for proposals issued by Buryat State University. Two to three participants were chosen from each university to present their papers. Communication Arts seniors, Katherine Malcom and Andrew Dias, were chosen to represent FIU.
Malcolm’s paper, “An Examination and Analysis of the Communication Accommodation Theory” detailed how communicators “accommodate” intercultural differences using various strategies of convergence or divergence, and Dias presented on “Intercultural Exchanges in Communication.” Buryat State University students discussed argumentation and theoretical approaches to studying intercultural communication. Missouri State University graduate students offered an interesting perspective on how social workers can use some of the intercultural communication concepts and strategies to inform their work.
“I believe this conference can lay a foundation for future joint projects with Buryat State University and Missouri State University, and take our students’ work here at the Communication Arts Department to a new level,” said Nuciforo.
The event exposed students to the importance of intercultural communication, including its role in stimulating constructive debate between cultural communities. In a specific disciplinary application, it examined the types of communication issues that arise in the context of social work, and the application of intercultural communication concepts in dealing with mental health and various parenting styles. The conference was divided into three panels: Elena Nuciforo and FIU debate coach T.J. Lakin moderated the panels Theoretical approaches to intercultural communication and Argumentation and debate in an intercultural context. The last panel, Intercultural communication in social work, was moderated by Dr. Susan Dollar from Missouri State University. During each panel, students had the chance to discuss key issues and ask questions of the presenters.
The conference on intercultural communication and interdisciplinary research was yet another step towards strengthening FIU’s Communication Arts Department’s collaboration with Buryat State University in Russia. In 2014, the two universities held several online debate sessions over the course of the fall and spring semesters. After the conference, all three universities expressed an interest in further collaboration.
Lambda Pi Eta is a nationally renowned honor society governed by the National Communication Association. Since 2013, FIU has hosted a university chapter of the honor society, which recognizes students with a high level of academic excellence in the communication field. With over 50 members, the goal of Lambda Pi Eta is to give Communication Arts students opportunities to grow professionally in the communication field and teach them skills they can take with them beyond graduation.