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Inclusive and Intercultural Learning

How can I design my curriculum to promote intercultural learning?


Internationalisation of the curriculum is the incorporation of international, intercultural, and/or global dimensions into the content of the curriculum as well as the learning outcomes, assessment tasks, teaching methods, and support services of a program of study.

             Leask, 2015

Six Principles of Good Practice for Teaching Across Cultures

Adapted from Leask & Carroll, 2013


Inclusive curriculum design values the diversity of students’ previous knowledge, experiences, perspectives and skills and embeds opportunities for all students to draw on their cultural backgrounds and learn from others. 


Respecting and adjusting for diversity means recognising multicultural classrooms as an educational asset, allowing students to share, exchange and draw upon diverse perspectives, knowledge and experiences. Using group work and designing culturally-responsive assessment that values the prior knowledge and skills that students bring to the classroom and can support a more inclusive learning environment for all. 


The teaching and learning environment is not a culturally-neutral space. Students bring a range of interpretations and assumptions to the setting. Faculty should be as clear as possible about their expectations of students in relation to behaviour as well as academic performance including transparency and clarity in relation to assessment criteria. This will include a range of disciplinary expectations such as critical thinking, appropriate referencing and analysis of relevant literature. 

Ensure that student information and requirements are appropriate to the needs and contexts in which teaching and learning takes place e.g. online, in-person, blended, overseas, undergraduate, postgraduate, etc.


Create opportunities for students to interact with others from diverse backgrounds and share and exchange a range of cultural perspectives on subject matter. 


Consider strategies to gather data and evaluate the impact of intercultural curriculum design on students from diverse cultural and/or linguistic backgrounds. This may support faculty in assessing the impacts of interventions and/or identify particular patterns of achievement among student cohorts. 


We are preparing graduates for a globalised world where intercultural and international knowledge, skills and attitudes are crucial to solving the complex challenges of the twenty-first century. Embedding graduate attributes related to global citizenship can ensure that diversity is recognised as a valuable asset to support the knowledge and skills that students need to flourish in our globalised world. 

Using an Outcomes-based Approach to Curriculum Design

Integrating intercultural learning into the curriculum starts with the intended learning outcomes (ILOs). Learning outcomes are clear statements of learning achievement describing what the student will be able to demonstrate upon completion of the module or programme of study and may refer to knowledge, skills and/or attitudes. 


Building an intercultural disciplinary curriculum begins with ILOs designed for equitable learning experiences and global graduate outcomes. Embedding dimensions of global  graduateness within disciplinary ILOs does not require the loss of disciplinary objectives, any dumbing down, or a further ‘stuffing’ of an overstuffed curriculum …. Disciplinary  learning outcomes can be modified to include inclusive, intercultural, and international dimensions.

 Killick, 2018

Constructive Alignment

Biggs’ constructive alignment model (2003) offers an outcomes-based approach to curriculum design, effectively linking the three key areas of the curriculum: the intended learning outcomes, the assessment strategy, and the activities used to support student learning.

  • Start with Learning Outcomes 
  • Assessment Strategy designed to support students achieve the learning outcomes
  • Teaching & Learning Activities to support students to successfully complete the assessment strategy and achieve the learning outcomes

Learning outcomes should be:

  • Clear and transparent to all stakeholders in describing what students will know or be able to do upon completion;
  • Act as the starting point in the (re-)design of culturally-responsive modules or programmes;
  • Communicate key knowledge, skills and/or attitudes that students will acquire;
  • Be able to support the development of an appropriate assessment strategy;
  • Inform the structure and sequencing of teaching and learning activities.

Intercultural, internationalised or global learning outcomes may include:

  • Reference to contemporary international and local content and contexts;
  • Investigation of professional practice in other cultures;
  • Intercultural issues in professional practice;
  • Critical global challenges and solutions;
  • Opportunities for students to reflect on how their learning applies to different cultural and geographical contexts;
  • Issues related to global justice, ethics, equity, human rights and related economic, social and political issues;
  • Reference to intercultural competence, communication and negotiation.

Key Points

  • Intercultural learning refers to the process of learning among diverse people.
  • Intercultural Learning is not just a matter of what you learn but how you learn.

Teaching and Learning Toolkit 101

This intercultural learning toolkit was devised by UCD Fellows in Teaching and Academic Development, Dr Cliona O’Sullivan (School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science) and Dr Aideen Quilty (School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice). This toolkit is an output from their research exploring UCD staff and students’ experiences and perceptions of intercultural teaching and learning and can be accessed through the below link.



The Making Global Learning Universal Podcast is hosted by Dr Stephanie Doscher from Florida International University. This podcast engages a range of perspectives to open up a conversation related to global learning in higher education—on campus, online, in local communities, and abroad. All episodes are accompanied by show notes, transcripts, and discussion guides to enhance global learning professional development, leadership, and teacher preparation.

Module and Programme Design:

For more information on designing an outcomes-based curriculum, see our resource on Module and Programme Design.


  • Landorf, H., Doscher, S., and Hardrick, J., 2018. Making Global Learning Universal: promoting inclusion and success for all students. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Leask, B. 2015. Internationalizing the Curriculum. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Leask, B., and Carroll, J. 2013. Good Practice Principles in Practice: teaching across cultures (International Education Association of Australia), https://www.ieaa.org.au/documents/item/397
  • Killick, D. 2018, Developing Intercultural Practice: Academic Development in a Multicultural and Globalizing World. Abingdon: Routledge.