The Liminal Space for Intercultural Learning: an Empirical Study among Undergraduate International Business Students

Anna Korwin-Kowalewska


The field of Intercultural Communication has attracted attention of specialists from various disciplines, including such distant fields of research as linguistics and international business studies. Most authors, however, focus on the scope of knowledge and skills in terms of learning objectives. Students’ own perspectives and various conceptions they construct with ascribed meanings, as well as the “architecture” of their learning process remain under-researched. This study provides an example of a replicable analysis of the Intercultural Communication learning process, based on subjects’ perspectives. Most participants of this study are first- and second-generation immigrants. Serious issues present in a multicultural setting based on the perception of the “Other” emerged, with implications for communication, collaboration and potential conflict. Two main transformation patterns were identified in the intercultural learning process, conditioned by mono- and multiculturalism. This study reveals a range within the self-conception transition framework, as well as the deep ontological aspect of the phenomenon. The findings extrapolated into a wider context should contribute to a more conflict-free environment in multicultural societies in general. The phenomenographic approach, variation theory and the threshold concept were applied to explore the semantics, the syntax of the learning process and the critical aspects of the transformative learning experience.

* This research was supported by the Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Mount Royal University (No. 2013–49a). Initial design was inspired and partly supported through collaboration with The Institute for Teaching and Learning at Mount Royal University. There has been no public presentation, nor publication of any part of this analysis. This is not part of a thesis or dissertation.

Słowa kluczowe: intercultural learning, liminal space, phenomenography, variation theory, sustainability

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