Exploring Important Tools for
NAFSA REGION V CONFERENCE
NOVEMBER 6, 2008
DR. STEPHEN APPIAH-PADI
DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL &
LANSING COMMUNITY COLLEGE
What is Your Cultural Metaphor?
Complete this sentence:
To me culture is like-----
Cultural Awareness Tools
Rolling the DIE
Ladder of Inference
The general process of learning the
social norms of the culture as one
grows in an environment.
Harro, Bobbie (2000). “The Cycle of Socialization”, in
Maurianne Adams et al, Readings for Diversity and
Social Justice. New York : Routeledge. pp. 15-21
Sonnenschein, William (1999). Diversity Toolkit,
Contemporary Books. pp. 32-34
Take a good look at this picture
and tell me something about it.
(What can you say about it?)
One or two sentences will be
Take a good look at this picture and tell me something
(What can you say about it?) in One or two sentences.
Description– information gathered when we see,
hear, smell, touch & taste
We do not all see,… the same way
Interpretation— What we think about what we see,
hear, smell, touch & taste
Different backgrounds & experiences affect
Evaluation— What we feel about what we think,
and what assessment of value- positive or negative-
we attach to our interpretations
Different values, different evaluations
She did not make eye contact with me
when I was talking to her
She was embarrassed
EVALUATION OF INTERPRETATION
She is shy
She did not make eye contact with me when I
was talking to her
She was not interested in what I was saying
EVALUATION OF INTERPRETATION
She is rude
ROLLING the D. I. E.
By Rolling the DIE we are forced to
look into ourselves to determine why
we hold certain beliefs or why we
interpret things in a particular way. It is
also an excellent tool for learning about
others and for communicating to
William Sonnenschein, Diversity Toolkit., p. 43.
A business man had just turned off
the lights in the store when a man
appeared and demanded money.
The owner opened a cash register.
The contents of the cash register
were scooped up, and the man sped
away. A member of the police force
was notified promptly.
What title would you give to this story? Why?
A man appeared after the owner had turned
off his store lights. (true or false)
The robber was a man. (true or false)
After the man who demanded the money
scooped up the contents of the cash register,
he ran away. (true or false)
The content of this story & some of the questions are portions of the
quot;Uncritical Inference Testquot;. copyrighted, 1955,1964,1967 by William V.
Some Lessons from the Story
It is important to be aware of assumptions, and
recognize one is making them, though
sometimes it will be necessary to make
assumptions (due to urgency of decisions,
lacking complete information).
Assumptions made by individuals (even for
same questions) are different.
Mental Models shape our assumptions.
Mental models are the images,
assumptions, and stories which we
carry in our minds of ourselves, other
people, institutions, and every aspect of the
world. They determine what we see, how we
make sense of them, and how we act. They
are invisible until we look for them.
Differences between mental models explain
why two people can observe the same event
and describe it differently.
Our mental models determine not only how we make
sense of the world but how we take action. Mental
models can be simple generalizations such as
“people are untrustworthy”, or they can be complex
theories, such as my assumptions about why
members of my family interact as they do…. Mental
models are active- they shape how we act… because
they affect what we see.
— Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of Learning
Organizations, p. 175
Ladder of Inference
A mental pathway of increasing
abstraction, often leading to misguided
beliefs— Peter Senge. 5th Discipline Fieldbook
LADDER OF INFERENCE From The 5th Discipline Fieldbook, Peter Senge, 1994. p. 243
Using the Ladder of Inference
Reflection— Becoming more aware of your
own thinking and reasoning
Advocacy— Making your thinking and
reasoning more visible to others (e.g. When
I use the word “maverick”… I mean…)
Inquiry— Inquiring into others’ thinking and
reasoning through dialogue (e.g. Can you
run me through your reasoning on this?)
The Ladder helps us to analyze and
understand how we make meaning
or come to conclusions.
Awareness of the ladder helps
us to understand our long standing
assumptions and therefore lead us
to change our mental models.
A Paradigm is a framework of thought
(from the Greek Paradigma, 'Pattern').
A Paradigm is a set of rules or regulations that:
provide rules for success
act as filters that screen data from an observer
Our paradigms filter incoming experience and
tend to screen out/in new data.
Paradigm Effect— Our paradigm has the ability
to keep us from seeing things happening around us.
Every time you run into something that is beyond
your paradigm, you just will not see it. It is the lens
that controls what we see.
Paradigm Paralysis— Ability of the old
paradigm to make us blind to the new. The result of
Paradigm Flexibility— Ability to change the
rules, to see the world anew, or flex your paradigm.
You can choose to see your current paradigms as
they are, anticipate new paradigms and change how
Paradigm Shift— A change from one way
of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a
transformation, a sort of metamorphosis.
Paradigm Pioneers— Practitioners of the
new paradigm. Creators of new paradigms
are mostly outsiders, at the edge, or
insiders who think outside the box. They
are brave and defiant. You may call them
What ideas, cultural changes, or relationship
issues are you finding difficult to embrace?
What can you do to overcome your own
“paradigm paralysis”? How can you develop
“paradigm flexibility” with the issues you
have identified? In what diversity issues in
your workplace do you think you can
become a “paradigm pioneer”? What
significant changes would you affect?
Some Questions for Discussion
How do you prepare your students for
cultural experience abroad?
What do you emphasize in your
diversity class/ workshop for students?
What is your approach to diversity on
The capability to interact effectively with people
from different cultural backgrounds. CQ explains
why some people may be smart and socially adept
but can still have problems adjusting to a new
Knowledge about Cultures (facts & cultural traits)
+ Awareness (of yourself and others)
+ Specific Skills (behaviors)
= Cultural Intelligence
Adams, M. et al (2000). Readings for Diversity and Social
Change. New York, NY : Routledge.
Kuhn, T. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sonnenschein, W. (1997) The Diversity Toolkit: How You can
Build and Benefit from a Diverse Workforce. Chicago, IL:
Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice
of Learning Organizations, New York : Doubleday
Senge, P. et al (1994) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook:
Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization.
New York : Doubleday
Earley, P.C. & Ang, S. (2003). Cultural Intelligence:
Individual Interactions Across Cultures, Stanford,
CA : Stanford University Press.
Peterson, Brooks (2004). Cultural Intelligence: A
Guide to Working with People from Other Cultures.
Boston, MA : Intercultural Press.
Thomas, D.C. & Inkson, K. (2003). Cultural
Intelligence: People Skills for Global Business, San
Francisco, CA : Berrett-Koehler.
The Business of Paradigms: Discovering the Future
(Video by Joel Baker)