Edited by Pierre Benckendorff and Anita Zehrer
Chapter 21: Learning by doing: intercultural competence and fieldtrips
Fieldtrips are an increasingly important component of university education. They provide an essential link between theoretical learning in the classroom and practical experience ‘in the field’. This chapter illustrates how fieldtrips can contribute to students’ ability to understand intercultural issues, especially in the context of tourism and hospitality courses. Experiential learning that is acquired in field excursions will be beneficial for graduates who will seek employment in increasingly internationalized markets. Tourism education especially requires a strong focus on intercultural understanding, and consequently is particularly well suited for studying the role of international fieldtrips in student learning. First, the conceptual understanding of educational fieldtrips is described and the new research areas of ‘intercultural competence’ and ‘intercultural communication’ are introduced. This is followed by a qualitative case study of a fieldtrip of German university students to Morocco, which incorporates these new concepts in order to exemplify the relevance of fieldtrips for developing intercultural competence. A general recommendation of the study is that fieldtrips should become a more important part of university education, especially in tourism and hospitality courses, because they equip students with the necessary skillsets for success in an increasingly internationalized workplace. As future employers and employees, university students in tourism and hospitality will therefore require courses on intercultural competence that will meet the demands of a rapidly evolving tourism industry. The case study provides an example of the knowledge and experience that students may acquire from cross-cultural fieldtrips. However, our findings also raise questions around the impacts of international fieldtrips on host cultures and to what extent these impacts are positive or negative.
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