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Cultural • Orientation • Reflection • Engagement

CORE for Credit

Culture is made visible by culture-shock, by subjecting oneself to situations beyond one's normal interpersonal competence and objectifying the discrepancy as an entity.
- Roy Wagner (1977)

Making Culture Visible (GSGS 3210-3220-3230)

  • Prerequisite.  Confirmed participation in study, research, global internship, or service-learning outside the US during the semester of instruction.
  • Registration.  Email the CORE Director or check the CORE box in your Education Abroad application.
  • Credit.  CORE is either 1 or 2 credits, depending on when and how long you will be studying abroad.
  • Tuition.  Tuition for CORE for 2018-19 is $372 for Virginia residents and $479 for non-Virginia residents.
  • Questions.  Contact the CORE Director with questions about CORE or how to enroll.

Course Description

CORE is an intensive short course that wraps around your program or project abroad with short seminars and assignments before, during, and after fieldwork abroad.  The goal is to complement the focus of your project with practice and reflection on transferrable cross-cultural concepts and skills.  We use your experience and the activities, journals, and photos you already plan to make as the basis of work.  We focus on translation and adaptation.

Learning Goals

In CORE, you will learn to:

  1. Observe, listen, communicate, and make sense of other people's words and behaviors when we do not speak or share a common language.
  2. Understand how social roles, categories, and contexts shape communication, our perceptions of others, and our identity.
  3. Combine observations, experiences, and cultural understanding to create a narrative that translates across cultures.

Components of the Course

  • Seminars and homework. Attend CORE seminars on Grounds and complete brief practice exercises for homework before and after your time abroad.
  • Field Assignments. Complete micro-observation and interpretation exercises in the field with instructor and peer feedback.
  • Multimedia narrative. Compose a multimedia narrative that captures your daily routines and milieu abroad for future students who may wish to follow in your footsteps.


You will receive feedback on your effort and performance in the course in the form of comments and a letter grade, but only a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade will appear on your transcript.


The whole point of being in a different culture is that it's different.  You can't predict how it will be or feel ahead of time.  If everything occurs just as you planned or expected, that is a good sign you are missing something crucial.   We believe everyone who goes abroad needs to be not just prepared for but open to the unexpected.  CORE helps you make time and space for cross-cultural serendipity and then helps you make the most of it when it happens!