Developing Intercultural Competences in the Study-Abroad Programme Semester at Sea (SAS)

Claude-Hélène Mayer (1), Lynette Louw (2), Jeff Larsen (3)
(1) Dept. of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, 2006 Johannesburg, South Africa, South Africa,
(2) Department of Management, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa, South Africa,
(3) Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, United States


Semester at Sea is a US-American study abroad programme during which students spend a semester on a ship studying while visiting various countries. The purpose of this article is to determine the intercultural competence development in the students during the Fall voyage through a self-assessment questionnaire. The research is anchored in a post-positivistic research paradigm, using an intercultural competence survey questionnaire to determine the intercultural competence at the beginning and at the end of the voyage in 182 participants. Results show that the intercultural competences, in terms of intercultural knowledge, awareness and skills of the students improved significantly during the voyage, when comparing all pre-voyage and post-voyage scores of the three components. This means that the SAS programme creates a diverse and multicultural learning space within the international educational system, promoting cultural knowledge, awareness, skill development through the combination of an academic curriculum and hands-on intercultural experiences. The study contributes to evaluating SAS as a US study abroad programme and provides conclusions and recommendations for future research and practice.

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Claude-Hélène Mayer (Primary Contact)
Lynette Louw
Jeff Larsen
Author Biographies

Claude-Hélène Mayer, Dept. of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, 2006 Johannesburg, South Africa

Claude-Hélène Mayer is a Professor in Industrial and Organisational Psychology at the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a Semester at Sea Alumni (SASFA22) and a Board member of the International Academy of Intercultural Research (IAIR). Claude is an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Psychology (Positive Psychology) and for the International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management. She holds Doctoral degrees in Psychology, Management and Cultural Anthropology. Her Venia Legendi is in Psychology with focus on Work, Organisational and Cultural Psychology (Europa Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany). Her research areas include transcultural mental health, salutogenesis, transcultural conflict management and mediation, women in leadership, shame and love across cultures, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and psychobiography. She is the winner of the William B. Gudykunst Book Award 2023, awared by the IAIR. Her teaching areas are cross-cultural psychology, mental health, psychobiography, organizational theory, systems and design thinking, coaching, positive psychology, organizational behaviour and transcultural conflict management and mediation. She works as a licenced (Germany) systemic family therapist and facilitator in family therapy (SG), constellation facilitator (KI), mediator and mediation facilitator (BM 2001-2021), hypnotherapist (TIM) and coach in private practice. Since 2005 she consults for leaders and international organizations.

Lynette Louw, Department of Management, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa

Professor Lynette Louw, appointed in the Raymond Ackerman Chair of Management, Department of Management and the Deputy Dean, Faculty of Commerce at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. She obtained her Doctor Commerce in Business Management at the University of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. She is the recipient of research awards, serves on journal editorial boards, co-author and editor of Management and Strategic Management textbooks. Her areas of speciality include Strategic management, International Organisational Behaviour, Intercultural and Cross-cultural management. Department of Management recipient of the Sandisa Imbewu research funding award from Rhodes University for the project "Chinese organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Dynamics, New Synergies

Jeff Larsen, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Jeff Larsen is the Chief of Staff - North America of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Mayer, C.-H., Louw, L., & Larsen, J. (2024). Developing Intercultural Competences in the Study-Abroad Programme Semester at Sea (SAS). Journal of Intercultural Communication, 24(1), 120–131.

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