Intercultural Communication

Purpose: The first writing assignment asked you to examine intercultural communication from the ground up, since you will most likely encounter intercultural miscommunications over the course of your career in global health. The second prompt asks you to think critically about your own underlying assumptions about service and what “making a difference” entails, since these are often key motivators for students seeking to work in global health. Personal statements are speckled with words like empathy, compassion, action, aid, help, underserved communities, altruism, care, calling, and any number of interrelated, emotive, other-oriented terms. This prompt is your opportunity to analyze exactly what those terms mean to you – what are the best ways to help others? Does that shift from context to context?
Prompt: Philosopher Peter Singer has chastised what he calls the “warm glow” of altruistic action, claiming that what people feel is a helpful action is often not so helpful after all; he claims that we cannot trust the warm, fuzzy feelings that accompany doing “good” for another person or a cause. Yet, those same feelings often motivate people to donate to a cause or to intervene when another person clearly needs help.
Choose a real world scenario in which actions that seem helpful on the surface may actually create bigger problems for the recipient of a positive act, for the person offering help, or to a larger social system. What are the major challenges to service in your chosen scenario? Are they theoretical, practical, or both? In light of your analysis and all of the potential obstacles, what is the best course of action for all involved parties?
Tip: Be creative – the world has many problems and many proposed forms of “giving” and “helping”, from the creation of foundations to buying someone a sandwich to spending time with a lonely person. Start by considering which of your own altruistic behaviors you default to in order to help others – do you think they are effective?
Audience and Publication: Like the first assignment, you will orient your writing towards a particular publication outlet– you’ll note that Peter Singer, et al. are writing for the Boston Review – an outlet that has both academic and public interest. There are a number of outlets like this (New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, etc.) that might be interesting, but you could also adapt this to any number of popular oulets, depending on the content of your chosen problem. Another great outlet for this type of work, if you are doing a specifically global health related problem, is the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics.
• 7-9 pages, double-spaced, MLA or APA format (or formatted to the publication you’ve chosen).
• 5-7 secondary sources that ground your analysis and help you better understand your case/primary sources.
Readings for today:
Peter Singer, “Effective Altruism” + Responses from the Boston Review
Empathy Debates from NYT Room for Debate hinder moral-action health-care avoiding-unintended-consequences/
Readings for today:
Cole: “The White Savior Industrial Complex”
Burks and Kobus: 2923.2011.04159.x
Ancillary for today: Post one or two ideas for your paper to the Google Doc called “WP2 Ideas Doc”
In Class: Discuss topics and strategies for approaching the task.
No class: President’s
Ancillary for today: Topic Proposal. Post your topic proposal in the folder called “Topic Proposals” under the WP2 folder on the Drive.
The topic proposal should provide a 1-2 page overview of your chosen case/issue, a primary source (or list of primary sources) that will help you analyze that case or issue; a list of 5-7 secondary sources that have also written on your case or a sub-category of “altruism” or related concepts that are relevant to your analysis.
In class: Workshop topic proposals, brainstorm directions and potential audiences/stakeholders.

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