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CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES
University Core Curriculum
2007-2008





A. University Mission Statement
Fairleigh Dickinson University is a center of academic excellence dedicated to the preparation of world citizens through global education. the University strives to provide students with the multi-disciplinary, intercultural, and ethical understandings necessary to participate, lead and prosper in the global marketplace of ideas, commerce and culture.
University General Learning Goal #6
An FDU graduate will demonstrate the ability to understand and appreciate multiple cultures and global issues from historical, ethical and moral perspectives.
B. Learning Goals for Cross-Cultural Perspectives
This course seeks to address University Learning Goal #Six through the examination of exemplary situations, topics, issues, events, etc., to inquire into the phenomenon of understandings and misunderstandings within and across human communities such that students:
1. recognize that they find themselves somewhere within (or at several places within) a global series of cultures and subcultures;
2. recognize that this fact of their situations poses opportunities and problems of communication and understanding within and across diverse groups of many kinds, locally, nationally, and globally;
3. understand that cultures and subcultures to some extent make or shape people, and do so according to principles that include the way that power works (who has it and who doesn't);
4. understand that culture by its very nature also changes, and that people are among the agents of change, so that awareness of the ways that cultural systems work, and that of how to negotiate sameness and difference, is indispensable to cultural coexistence at all levels;
5. can situate themselves within and in relation to that particular array of culture and subcultures that composes the United States of America.
Learning Objectives
As a result of taking this course, students should be able to:
1. identify and analyze agents that shape a culture;
2. identify, describe and analyze fluidity and multiplicity of cultural identities and borders;
3. identify and critically examine systems and processes that cause cultural changes and disruptions;
4. identify, describe and examine a cultural phenomenon in their on lives;
5. recognize and articulate meaning behind familiar and unfamiliar cultural practices;
6. explain how issues of cultural understanding and misunderstanding involve issues of how we know what we know.
C. Texts
Supplementary Readings for UC 103. Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart.
Renata Rosaldo. Culture and Truth.
Helen Watson. Women in the City of the Dead.
Films and Documentaries
Body Art (DVD).
China Blue (DVD).
Race: The Power of an Illusion (DVD).
Style Manual for Papers
Diana Hacker. A Pocket Style Manual. Boston: Bedford Books/ St. Martin's Press, 1993. The proper guide for making references to on-line sources is the MLA style sheet. It is not available on line. However examples of correct references may be found at the University of Georgia Libraries' MLA Style Sheet site.
Academic Integrity: University policy on academic integrity.
D. Course Structure
The course is organized into six units. The idea behind simple and straightforward unit titles is to encourage the characteristic commonsensical character of discussion in Core. Instructors have a degree of freedom to introduce their own preferred vocabularies and concepts in the service of the focal issues of each unit. That is, we want the students to leave the course with verbal instruments, a vocabulary, for thinking about culture, and this vocabulary to some degree will vary from instructor to instructor.

A number of concepts crucial to the course are not flagged in the unit titles. Instead, they will recur or be threaded throughout the course. These include the character of culture as a relationship between stasis and change; as a constellation of forces that shape its members and is shaped by them; as a field of forces that includes political and economic power, as an occasion of epistemological issues, especially in the form of cross-cultural negotiations and intercultural borrowing and more concretely, the theme of self-identity, of inclusion and exclusion, of belonging and alienation.
Unit 1: Culture and You
Learning Objectives for this Unit: At the completion of this unit students should be able to:
1. State the informal taxonomy of the many cultures that they can identify themselves at the micro and macro level.
2. Recognize the utility as well as the limitation of the classic norms of describing a culture.
3. Deconstruct ideological biases associated with the concept of race.
4. Illustrate their understanding of how cultures and subcultures make or shape people.
5. Identify universalistic and particularistic examples of understanding different cultures.
Readings and DVD
1. Nacirema
2. Rosaldo, either/both "Erosion of Classical Norms" and "After Objectivism." See also: Culture.
3. Race DVD. See RACE-The Power of an Illusion PBS
4. Nathan, As Others See Us
Additional Resources: What is Culture?
Unit 2: Culture and Things We Make
Learning Objectives for this Unit: At the completion of this unit students should be able to:
1. Identify processes of intercultural borrowing and how such borrowing make the "strange" familiar.
2. Discuss the universalistic versus particularistic approaches to understanding of body and beauty.
3. Demonstrate critical understanding of how popular media shape and inform our understanding of other cultures.
4. Explain how and why the meanings of everyday artifacts of culture (such as clothing) change over time.
Readings and DVD
1. Body Art DVD. See About Body Art-Australian Museum's Body Art. This site provides information with plenty of photos making it a good companion piece to the video.
2. Lutz and Collins, Reading National Geographic
3. Gordon, American Denim: Blue Jeans and Their Multiple Layers of Meaning. See Blue Jeans and Sweatshops.
4. Ahmad, Why Is Veil Such a Contentious Issue. The New York Times does a splendid job of covering the veil issue across the world. The FDU Libraries carry the electronic version of the newspaper, so that it is available to all the FDU community.
Unit 3: Culture and Things We Do
Learning Objectives for this Unit: At the completion of this unit students should be able to:
1. Describe how culture makes and is made by people.
2. Describe practices and behaviors that make a culture.
Readings
1. Achebe, Things Fall Apart. See Chinua Achebe: An Overview.
2. Watson, Women in the City of the Dead.
Unit 4: Culture and Things We Think
Learning Objectives for this Unit: At the completion of this unit students should be able to:
1. Articulate a working definition of religion and identify important dimensions of religion.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between religion and culture.
3. Recognize and articulate the meaning behind familiar and unfamiliar religious practices.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of how religious traditions change, and identify agents of change.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of the fluid nature of religious identities and the unboundedness of religious communities in contemporary societies.
Additionsl Resources: The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, headed by Dian Eck, has been running for more than a decade. It is an excellent resource on world religious such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam in the United States.
Readings
1. Rosaldo, "Border Crossings"
2. Henderson, Ibo Religion
3. Rocha, Being a Zen Buddhist Brasilian
4. Eck, Image, Temple and Pilgrimage
5. Confucius, Analects 6. Mao Zedong, Quotations
Unit 5: Culture and Change
Learning Objectives for this Unit: At the completion of this unit students should be able to:
1. Understand that how culture are made and remade by global (capitalism/globalization, colonialism/imperialism) and national (communism) historical forces.
2. Understand that cultural remaking can be both forced and violent.
3. Understand that massive cultural disruptions and changes create winners and losers and that who wins and who loses depends on individuals' capacity for adaptation as well as existing power structure.
Readings
1. Rosaldo, "Imperial Nostalgia"
2. Achebe, Things Fall Apart
3. Jiang and Ashley, Selections from Mao's Children in New China. Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages contains several visually arresting propaganda posters of this period--in particular, check out the Up to the mountain and Down to the village posters. To read the Chinese legends for these posters place the cursor over the Chinese letters.
4. China Blue DVD
Additional Resources:
Key dates of Modern China.
Independent Lens-CHINA BLUE PBS.
Unit 6: The Individuals and Their Cultures
E. Twenty-Eight Period Schedule
Unit 1
Class 1: Course introduction and Nacirema
Class 2: Erosion of Classical Norms and/or After Objectivism
Class 3: Watch Race video
Class 4: As Others See Us

Unit 2
Class 5: Watch Body Art video
Class 6: Reading National Geographic
Class 7: American Denim
Class 8: Why is the veil such a contentious issue?

Unit 3
Class 9: Things Fall Apart. For further websites see Nigeria and Chinua Achebe.
Class 10: Things Fall Apart
Class 11: Women in the City of the Dead. For further websites see Ancient Egypt and Egypt Today.
Class 12: Women in the City of the Dead

Unit 4
Class 13: Ibo Religion
Class 14: Border Crossings
Class 15: Being a Zen Buddhist Brazilian
Class 16: Image, Temple and Pilgrimage. For further websites see India and The Bhagavad Gita.
Class 17: Analects and Mao's Quotations. For further websites see China: Politics and Culture and, just below, Mao Zedong.

Unit 5
Class 18: Imperial Nostalgia
Class 19: Things Fall Apart
Class 20: Mao's children
Class 21: Watch China Blue

Unit 6
Class 22: Individuals and Their Cultures--discussion
Class 23: Living in a Many-Cultured World--discussion
F. Assignments and Grades
Assignments
1. Journal entries: 10
2. Two papers:
Paper 1: 10 pages long. Paper should be on clothing or a religious aspect or media representations of foreign culture. This paper should be modeled on the readings discussed in class.
Paper 2: 5 pages long. Paper should be on cross-cultural understanding or communication based on students' own experiences.
Grading
a. Journals and class discussions: 30%
b. Mid-term and final exams: 40%
c. Papers: 30%