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Local Host

Michiko Miyamoto
Professor, Akita Prefectural University




International Conference on Business and Social Science

March 29-31, 2016, Kyoto, Japan

Keynote Speech


Integrating intercultural awareness in education


Michelle Kawamura

Faculty of Economics

Ritsumeikan University


Summary of Keynote Speech

It is my pleasure to be here, at this conference, meeting you all. We are very fortunate to be here, free of oppression, violence and/or any constrains, to share our expertise in various disciplines. We should treasure this freedom and spread the same spirit to our students, our peers and the people we encounter every day. The topic I would like to share with you today is intercultural awareness. My research has mainly focused on intercultural awareness and competence between students and teachers of different countries. Let me first introduce myself.

I am a member of the Faculty of Economics at Ritsumeikan University. Other than teaching Economics, Microeconomics in particular, my main responsibilities are planning and designing the English curriculum and integrating that curriculum with social, environmental and economic content. The content we write is derived from domestic and international issues. Our main purpose is to bring our students an awareness of global challenges with critical thinking training and the facts researched to support their logic. This kind of education which involves logical thinking in order to develop empathy towards the world is so vital in education in all disciplines today. Whether you are a professional in the field of science, business, environment or education, the teaching of content involving authentic world issues can bring out the inner humanity in our students and bring them a step closer to intercultural awareness. We, the educators, future educators and researchers can prepare our students for an ever complex society and to be a real global citizen.

Again, today, we are so fortunate to be here meeting professionals from disciplines in the fields of natural sciences and engineering (ICNSE), chemical, biological and environmental sciences (ICCBES), social science and management (ICSSAM), Education, psychology and social sciences (ISEPSS) and engineering and information (ICEAI). This conference is a bona fide example of a pool of people of different religions, cultures and academic backgrounds getting together to discuss issues pertinent to us all. I believe the professionals here share my thoughts and this vision.

Encountering cross-cultural issues has become inevitable in our society throughout the world. Fitzpatrick and O’Dowd (2012) stated that in the 21st century workplace, cross-cultural communicative competence is a critically important ability. Raising cultural awareness and building multicultural sensitivity (Klinge & Rohmann, 2009) have been emphasized in the development of students’ future careers. In fact, in recent years, cross-cultural communication has been integrated into curricula in many European countries (Walton, Priest, & Paradies, 2013). I would like to add that the purpose of building cross-cultural awareness should be foundational and not just for work purposes.

In many cases, the training of cross-cultural communication takes place in language classes.

However, often, teachers have no training in cross-cultural understanding. Also, the learning and training of cross-cultural communication needs to incorporate into real life issues, critical international issues and humanitarian issues.

Teachers’ lack of the notion of becoming interculturally aware and the flexibility to respect cultural differences affects their students in the materials selected, instructions carried out, and in behavior (Sercu, 2005). This situation remains while the speed of globalization is proceeding, and the gap between the intercultural awareness among teachers and appropriate instruction becomes wider. This calls for a discussion of intercultural awareness and the teachers’ new responsibilities in the current globalizing society (Sercu, 2005).

Earlier I talked about the lack of training in cross-cultural understanding and the teaching to bring such awareness into our classrooms. I would like to say that a teacher’s awareness and interests in fostering the skills among our students to be compassionate and responsible citizens is more important than technical training.  It is the teacher’s responsibility to take a step further to research how to link their discipline, their expertise and their research to real situations in their classrooms. It is the teachers’ responsibility to integrate not only the knowledge in the textbook but to also to make this knowledge a living tool for their students.

My undergraduate degree was in economics, and my masters and doctorate in education. That probably explains why I am teaching in the school of Economics and planning curriculums to bridge social, environmental and economic issues into our classes at Ritsumeikan University. An example is the topic of poverty which we included as a chapter in our English communication and writing textbooks. This chapter included information regarding poverty in all countries both developing and developed. In this chapter we also included the utility of happiness, our social responsibilities, and corporate and government social responsibilities. We want to deliver the message that we all share the same problems in our societies and seek steps to help each other for a more ideal future. In addition to the topics of the contents we teach we also place emphasis on research and verifying information researched to ensure reliability. Since 2009 I have been conducting researches on cross-cultural communication to promote intercultural awareness. These researches are collaborative with professors from Taiwan and Korea. We have our students from Korea, Taiwan and Japan communicate using an internet platform. Our intention was to examine students’ willingness to communicate before and after the implementation of the international communication projects we’d set up for them. In all results, the overall outcome is positive in students’ perception of cross-cultural communication and future willingness to communicate with people of different cultures. In the classes at the School of Economics of Ritusmeikan, we are preparing students for cross-cultural communication through fostering awareness and interests of other cultures by learning international issues and problems that all countries are sharing. Then through this experiment we have brought students to real person to person communication. Just like this conference, as educators, we should foster students with higher critical thinking skills in today’s complex globalizing society. Lastly, let’s treasure our time here today and spread the same spirit to our students, our peers and the people we encounter every day.


2016 ICBASS Conference Program
201603 Kyoto Conference Program.pdf

Socializing Event

Tour Date & Time: 18:00-21:30, Wednesday, March 30, 2016


18:00 Pick up from Venue

18:30-19:00  Maruyama Park Cherry Blossom Viewing

19:30-21:00  Gala Dinner at Ganko Takasegawa Nijoen

( All-you –can –drink)

21:10-21:30  Return to Venue


Kyoto Research Park

134, Chudoji Minami-machi, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8813, Japan
Tel: 81-75-322-7800


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