An innovative way to teach comparative cultural theory: A descriptive study at a Peruvian university


  • Mariella Olivos Universidad ESAN Professor and Associate Director Undergraduate Programs
  • Stella Tippin de Malpica Universidad ESAN


One common problem Global Understanding (GU) instructors face is teaching students how to critically analyze the similarities and differences between cultures. Comparative cultural theorists like Geert Hofstede have provided frameworks that help students learn to process and categorize these similarities and differences, but their theories can often seem abstract and divorced from the practical life of 21st century students. However, Universidad ESAN in Lima, Peru has developed an experiential learning methodology to help students understand and apply comparative cultural theory, as well as use quantitative and qualitative research methods, experience data collection and analysis, and work together in international virtual teams. For the past three semesters, GU students at ESAN have been assigned the task of developing and applying an exploratory questionnaire based on one of Hofstede's cultural dimensions, teaching their GU partners in three other countries about their assigned dimension, helping those partners apply the questionnaire in their own countries and then comparatively analyzing the results together with their partners at an exploratory level. The result has been increased comprehension of comparative cultural theory, heightened interest in research and data collection and greater, more applicable experiences of mediated collaboration via virtual teams.





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