ASU doctoral student travels beyond U.S. borders to work with intercultural scholars

By

Lynne MacDonald

Elena Steiner has always wanted to travel beyond U.S. borders to see what intercultural educators, trainers, and researchers are doing and talking about in the “rest of the world."

Steiner, a doctoral student in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, will be traveling this summer through Europe and the Far East conducting international research she believes could be incorporated into the ASU classroom.

She will be conducting research with Steinbeis University, a private university in Berlin, Germany. The Steinbeis Center for Management and Technology, a network of leading institutes within the university, is bringing a cohort of masters of business engineering students to Tokyo to work alongside Japanese students in consulting projects with small to medium size Japanese companies.

Steiner will be conducting data collection in Tokyo for two weeks during the student collaboration, reporting her results back to SCMT. She will also submit a paper for part of her doctoral coursework at ASU. 

Prior to beginning her research in Germany, Steiner will also be attending the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR) conference in Dublin, Ireland.

“To really look at intercultural communication, it’s important to live that as much as possible by experiencing the intercultural aspects of the field of intercultural communication,” Steiner said.

Traveling to international conferences is not new for Steiner.

Steiner has been a member of SIETAR USDA for years. She attended the SIETAR Global Conference in Spain several years ago, so SIETAR Europa is a natural choice, she stated.  

Steiner previously lived in Germany six years and said she feels her personal life has guided her somehow back “home.”

The international conference provides her the opportunity to connect with colleagues old and new and explore opportunities for dissertation data collection.  She will also investigate project work in Europe, especially with the NGO sector, and post doc possibilities.

Steiner’s proposal to present at the conference in a doctoral track was accepted. Her plan was to further develop her dissertation interests, but discovered the commitment was more substantial than her time allowed.

The SIETAR conference topics and participants are related to the data collection she will be doing for the Steinbeis Center of Management and Technology in Tokyo.

, doctoral student

Elena Steiner

Steiner will be meeting with several colleagues at the conference associated with the University of Jyväskylä in Finland who conduct programs at the intersection of academia and practical application in the private sector.

The University of Jyväskylä model is similar to the SCMT and Tokyo University models where student consultants have the chance to collaborate on projects in the private sector. 

Steiner stated that the overarching goals are to help people and organizations develop intercultural communication skills, so they can excel in a dynamic and global marketplace.

She said it will be beneficial to see what is being done in Finland and how it might relate to the German/Japanese projects.

Steiner’s data collection largely revolves around field observation of 90 student consultants divided into 15 working teams interacting in a global team to produce a final product for the Japanese company with which they’re working.  

Steiner believes her research results can and should be brought into the ASU classroom.  She believes it is a natural fit, given ASU’s philosophy of the New American University and the focus on innovation and bridging between academia and other sectors.

“I have always thought it is important for students of intercultural communication to hear about how culture impacts just about any endeavor in any field or discipline,” she said. “Making ourselves conscious of our own culture, increasing self-awareness, is always the key and first step to improve intercultural interactions.”