Overseas study tours and cultural intelligence

Can travel coupled with cross-cultural design thinking workshops improve cultural intelligence in Arts and Design students?

Lisa SCHAROUN, Carlos Alberto Montana-Hoyos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Travel affords us many things, such as time for reflection, leisure, work and exploration. It can also be key in helping us to understand others, to adjust and adapt to new scenarios and stressors. In this sense, travel can be a means to increase one’s intelligence. This study looks at the metric of cultural intelligence (CQ) – an individual’s ability to function in various cultural contexts – and how travel can increase this. A major dimension of CQ is cultural metacognition, a term that describes the ability of an individual to be culturally aware and adaptable in multicultural situations. Travel to a culture significantly different from one’s own can strengthen cultural metacognition, especially during longer periods of work or study; however, this is also possible during short-term overseas experiences. The importance of high CQ is essential in an increasingly globalized world, and CQ capabilities form a major component of the ‘soft skills’ that employers desire in university graduates. Our study reviews the possibilities for increasing CQ in short-term overseas study through intensive design-thinking workshops with a focus on students of creative arts and design. Previous studies on CQ tended to focus on Management and Business studies. Strong CQ skills are seen as an asset in these fields; however, they are particularly relevant in the arts where career paths do not always have a strictly defined skill set and often rely on graduates to be adaptable and flexible to many varied work situations. This article sets out the process that we utilized in facilitating a series of cross-cultural workshops for Australian design students in Singapore, in partnership with overseas students from Hong Kong and Singapore. Employing case studies, quantitative and qualitative surveys, observation and analysis, our study attempts to show how intensive multidisciplinary and cross-cultural designthinking workshops in short-term study tours for university students can influence the CQ skills of students in creative arts and design disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalAustralasian Journal of Popular Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2017


Cite this