Cultural Intelligence

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A campus where you are welcome to bring your culture, the many layers of your cultural identity, to the community promotes respect, improves morale, and creates an environment where students, staff, and faculty can thrive.

Acquiring additional knowledge and tools for engagement improves one’s ability to engage with people across similarities and acclimate to differences, more specifically cultures, thus moving UTSA down the path of Inclusive Excellence.


The emotional dimension relates to the emotional or feeling component of the situation and the motivation to generate solutions. This dimension is the 'touch paper' in the intercultural encounter - the thing that changes fuel into the fire and contains both the creative potential and the 'danger'; the positive driving forces and the stumbling blocks that can destroy or enliven the contact. ‘Intercultural engagement’ includes the motivation we have to achieve a fruitful inter-cultural encounter. Our motivation comes from both external drivers, goals, and objectives, such as the need to develop a strategy for innovation, and internal drivers, such as curiosity or an attraction to things or people who are different. These drivers determine how much of an investment we are prepared to put into any situation.

The cognitive dimension is the objective or rational component. It is based on reason and the capacity to develop mental structures that enable us to understand the encounter, think about what is going on, and make judgments based on conceptual frameworks and language. It consists of understanding oneself as a cultural being and understanding people with a different cultural background. This dimension requires knowledge about what culture is and knowledge about the characteristics of our own and others' cultures. It also consists of cognitive flexibility and the ability to transfer experience from one cultural encounter to another.

The action dimension is about what happens during an encounter and what we decide to do based on our judgments about the situation from the emotional and rational data we have collected. The action dimension is the activity and communication during the cultural encounter and what each participant actually does. It consists of various types of interpersonal communication, such as listening, questioning, summarizing, agreeing or disagreeing, etc., and skills which we have learned to manage relationships in general involving body language, etiquette, rituals, rules, and techniques. The action dimension brings the other two dimensions of cultural intelligence into play.


(Plum, Achen, Dræby og Iben Jensen, Libri Publishing, London 2008)