Summer school

Intercultural Competency in 21st Century International Relations

Degree DirectorGemma Aubarell, Hannah Abdullah
CoordinationGemma Aubarell, Hannah Abdullah
Price 525€

I want to sign-up


Intercultural competencies and the dialogue across cultures are becoming increasingly important in 21stcentury international relations. In our globalized world the governance of cultural diversity has become an international concern that is linked with issues such as security, migration, new populist movements and transnational fundamentalism. Diversity is often viewed as a problem or threat in these contexts. To address this challenge various international relations actors – ranging from states to multilateral and civil society organizations – have formulated intercultural approaches that are aimed at increasing tolerance for diversity by fostering equitable interaction, mutual respect and dialogue between cultures.

The course explores how interculturality can be a powerful resource for effective international and development cooperation, transformational leadership, as well as conflict prevention and resolution. It provides International Relations students and professionals with a comprehensive overview of intercultural competencies in the form of attitudes, skills, knowledge, behaviour and communication methods that allow for a better understanding of diversity and mutual respect, and that can foster dialogue.


  • Provide an introduction to the relevance of intercultural competencies for international relations work
  • Present an overview of the theory and practice of intercultural competencies in the context of international relations by drawing on approaches from International Relations, Cultural Sociology, Political Science and Management Theory
  • Introduce the methodologies and initiatives of international organizations and other actors working to foster intercultural dialogue at the international level
  • Provide training in concrete intercultural skills and abilities


  • Students will gain a multi-disciplinary perspective on the theory and practice of intercultural competencies in the context of international relations
  • They will gain an overview of international organizations and other actors promoting intercultural dialogue and their most effective methodologies and initiatives 
  • They will learn how interculturality can be a powerful resource in international relations work, ranging from diplomacy to international leadership, development cooperation and conflict prevention 
  • They will acquire concrete intercultural skills and abilities that will enable them to navigate complex environments marked by a growing diversity of peoples and cultures


The course teaching will follow an interactive format, based on introductory lectures, interactive seminars, group work and roundtable discussions. 

Each day begins with a one-hour lecture by an international expert who introduces the key concepts, theoretical debates, and policy and governance questions covered that day. This will be followed by a 45-minute interactive seminar during which students have the opportunity to engage more in depth with the lecture contents in a group discussion, group work and role-plays. 

The second half of each day consists of a roundtable on how international organizations are implementing the theoretical concepts and debates discussed in the lecture and how these ideas have been translated into concrete policies. In addition to the lecturer, one to two practitioners /experts with experience in the topic of the roundtable participate in the roundtable. 

Students should read the suggested reading prior to class. Further readings are provided for those students who wish to deepen their understanding of the course content.



  • LECTURE & SEMINAR: 16:00-18:00
    Cultural diversity and globalisation
    Yudhishthir Raj Isar, American University of Paris

Key concepts: culture, globalization, culturalism, cultural diversity, global cultural citizenship

  • ROUNDTABLE: 18:00 -20:30
    Cultural diversity: A leading notion in international (cultural) politics 
    With Yudhishthir Raj Isar and Arturo Rodríguez Morató, Centre for the Study of Culture, Politics and Society UB


  • LECTURE & SEMINAR: 16:00-18:00
    Intercultural approaches to governing cultural diversity in a context of intensified mobility
    Jérémie Molho, Global Governance Programme, European University Institute, Florence

Key concepts: migration, governance of cultural diversity, multiculturalism, interculturalism, national identity politics  

  • ROUNDTABLE: 18:00 -20:30
    The intercultural paradigm: new debates in international relations
    With Jérémie Molho, Odilia Triebel, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) and Enric Olivé, Unesco Chair URV


  • LECTURE AND SEMINAR: 16:00-18:00
    Intercultural management and transformational leadership
    Gemma Aubarell

Key concepts: Trans-Cultural management, Transformational leadership, International Cultural models, Intercultural communication, Post national and transnational communities 

  • ROUNDTABLE: 18:00 -20:30
    Cross-cultural response strategies: intercultural communication and behavioural policies
    With Fatiha Hassouni, Union for the Mediterranean and Jorge Luis Castañeda, World Bank


  • LECTURE & SEMINAR: 16:00-18:00
    Cultural Diplomacy: from “soft power” to “international cultural relations”
    Hannah Abdullah, CIDOB

Key concepts: cultural diplomacy, soft power, international cultural relations, global citizenship, culture and sustainable development 

  • ROUNDTABLE: 18:30-20:30
    Cultural producers and the creative industries: Enablers and drivers of sustainable social and economic development?
    With Mercedes Giovinazzo, Interarts Foundation and Judith Maiworm, Goethe-Institut Barcelona


  • LECTURE & SEMINAR: 16:00-18:00
    Dilemmas of intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean: Values, religion, education
    Caroline Robertson-von Throta, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Key concepts: values, diversity, religion dialogue, intercultural citizenship, education, migration, prevention and resilience 

  • CLOSING ROUNDTABLE: 18:30-20:30
    Intercultural Dialogue: An Effective tool for dialogue in the Mediterranean region?
    With Caroline Robertson-von Throta, Ricard Zapata, GRITIM, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Andreu Claret, former director Anna Lindh Foundation


With the suport of: