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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Building Intercultural Leaders

The University of Dayton launched a new undergraduate certificate to prepare students to work across cultures and borders in the increasingly global environment of the 21st century.

The International and Intercultural Leadership Certificate (IILC) is an interdisciplinary academic track open to all University undergraduates. It combines on-campus courses with language-learning and an education abroad experience, and culminates with an experiential capstone course and presentation.

The certificate allows students to add a valuable asset to their degree, given the intercultural, global environment in graduate, postgraduate and professional careers. Students take courses from four different academic disciplines intended to give them the foundational knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to become an international and intercultural leader.

“Employer surveys tell us that intercultural competencies are among the top three things employers are looking for in the graduates today,” said Amy Anderson, associate provost for global and intercultural affairs, and executive director of the University’s Center for International Programs. “The certificate gives students the experience and background to be able to demonstrate to future employers their global competencies and the things they have learned through these interdisciplinary, on-campus and off-campus experiences.”

Most students will take from 13 to 23 credits to complete the certificate program.

“As far as we know, this is one of the first certificates of this kind combining leadership, social justice, language-learning and intercultural skills,” said Francisco Penas-Bermejo, professor and department of global languages and cultures chair.


The certificate supports University President Eric F. Spina’s vision for “The University for the Common Good,” which calls for increased intercultural and global engagement for all students, regardless of their financial circumstances.

It also promotes the College of Arts and Science’s strategic goal to advance global learning through curricular, co-curricular, local and international opportunities.

The University offers a variety of education abroad programs that can count toward the certificate and scholarships are available to help students participate. The international and intercultural experience component requires students to participate in an education abroad program offered by an accredited institution or recognized program provider, or a local experience in a target language.

One new option is the University’s Semester Abroad and Intercultural Leadership (SAIL) program. The year-long program includes a fall semester in China, Ireland or Spain, followed by participation in an intercultural leadership program that includes special housing during the spring semester. Students get a $3,000 scholarship to participate in SAIL. The application deadline is March 1.

Students can fulfill the language requirement by taking global language courses or demonstrating proficiency via a placement exam. The department of global languages and cultures offers instruction in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian and Spanish.

“Our students develop language and intercultural skills to be able to interact effectively and appropriately in real-life situations with native speakers of other languages,” Penas-Bermejo said.

The capstone course helps students integrate and apply their learning. Students also reflect on and share their experience and the integration of their knowledge in a professional presentation at a venue such as the University’s annual Bro. Joseph W. Stander Symposium.

“Any student can take advantage of the certificate and many of the courses are integrated right into their academic program, so with careful planning students can embed this into a four-year degree program and graduate on time with a valuable certificate that is meaningful both personally and professionally,” Anderson said.

The certificate program is a collaboration among the departments of communication, global languages and cultures, and sociology, anthropology and social work, the international studies program, Center for International Programs and Center for Social Concern.


- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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