Teaching for Intercultural Citizenship

Manuela Wagner 

Professor of Language Education in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut

1:05 pm – 2:15 pm (Room 213)

Manuela Wagner is Professor of Language Education in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. In her research, teaching, and service she focuses on the integration of intercultural dialogue and citizenship and social justice in education. One of her goals is to foster an environment in which students sustain all parts of their identities. She is particularly interested in the interplay of theory and practice and enjoys collaborating with colleagues in a variety of contexts and disciplines. Examples of projects can be found in her co-authored and co-edited volumes: Teaching Intercultural Citizenship Across the Curriculum: The Role of Language Education (2019) Teaching Intercultural Competence Across the Age Range: From Theory to Practice (2018),  Education for Intercultural Citizenship: Principles in Practice (2017). The co-edited volume Intercultural Learning in Language Education and Beyond: Evolving Concepts, Perspectives and Practices (in press) will appear with Multilingual Matters in April 2022.

Other research interests include intellectual humility and conviction, humor in a variety of contexts (language education, German-speaking cultures), and first language acquisition (pragmatic development in infants and children and language development in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder).


Global events such as the current Covid-19 pandemic or the Climate Crisis shed light on the interconnectedness of the world we live in as well as inequalities that exist locally and globally. With these developments comes an increasing demand for students to learn how to engage in intercultural dialogue across difference and to collaboratively solve complex problems with people from a variety of backgrounds. This understanding of the importance of teaching the knowledge and skills related to intercultural communication is evidenced by national and international initiatives to include intercultural competence (IC) in education in meaningful ways (e.g., ACTFL, Council of Europe, PISA assessments 2018).

In my presentation, I will first reflect on connections between teaching languages and preparing our students for the challenges they face. The conceptualization of teaching languages in a way that prepares students to critically analyze the world around them and decide what actions to take to address a societal issue requires that teaching goes beyond instrumental purposes, e.g., fostering intercultural citizenship (ICIT) (e.g., Byram, 2008) or social justice (SJ) (e.g., Nieto, 2010; Osborn, 2006; Glynn, Wesely & Wassell, 2014).

Examples and results from a variety of projects will be shared to address questions such as, How can educators guide learners along the journey of becoming “intercultural citizens”? What is the relationship between teaching for intercultural citizenship and social justice education? How can we expand learners’ language proficiency while also helping them solve real world problems? How can practitioners implement and sustain this approach to language education? What are some challenges we face in teaching and researching intercultural communication in language education?

Sponsors: University Lectures Kemper K. Knapp Fund, Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+, SLA Doctoral Program, Language Institute