Editor's Note, by Chris Gerben

Plasma Screens as Portals to the World, by Alyssa J. O'Brien

Tutoring Graduate Students in the Writing Center, by John Peterson and Joel Burges

PWR awards outstanding student work with IRAs and OPRAs, compiled by Wendy Goldberg & Chris Gerben

Students Publish Work in New Anthology: Official Book Introduction with Preface by Wendy Goldberg

Stanford Library Honors Boothe Prize Winner in Podcast

PWR Instructors Leaving the Farm


“Successful intercultural communication is a matter of highest importance if humankind and society are to survive.”


-- Larry Samovar, Richard Porter, & Edwin McDaniel, Intercultural Communication

It’s a new quarter, and Stanford students in the PWR 2 class, “Cross-Cultural Rhetoric” are getting to know one another. But in this class, their peers are not only those sharing a Wallenberg classroom. Instead, their peers and colleagues for the next ten weeks are students located 5,300 miles away, across a time difference of nine hours, in the small town of Örebro, Sweden. For their first shared class together, students were placed into globally-distributed teams, with plasma screens as portals to the world.

After Natalie showed her Swedish peers this pink Ikea pet named “Velcro,” they named their team after the animal they could only meet through webcam technology.

We asked them to share rhetorical artifacts illuminating their cultural identity – such as the small pink stuffed animal from Ikea called “Velcro” that Stanford student Natalie Knutsen holds up to the webcam to show her peers in Örebro. Then we gave them the following challenge: develop one collaborative group identity for yourselves as a cross-cultural team and come up with a name that you will use for the rest of the quarter. Our pedagogical goal was to contribute new learning to the field of intercultural theory and pedagogy by asking students to form and work in globally-distributed teams. We hoped to eradicate the boundaries that separated these students even as they learned to develop intercultural competencies and a diverse world view. No “us versus them” mentality desired here.

The teams impressed us with their creativity and word-smithing. One group based itself on the Swedish Ikea animal owned by an American student and named itself “Velcro”; another took a name to indicate American ignorance about Sweden by naming itself after the famous Swedish astronaut “Fugelsang,” while a third composed a hybrid title to indicate a shared love of music, calling itself “Muzikahölics.” A fourth group created a collaborative identity based on person’s embodied rhetoric, a green hat, and so they became known as the “Green Hat” Group. They wore their real or simulated hats to every subsequent session.

Students collaborating in globally-distributed teams in Stanford and Örebro develop a shared cross-cultural identity as “The Green Hat Group.”

Wallenberg Funded Innovations in Teaching with Technology
This is the second quarter of the Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Project, a grant funded initiative made possible by the Wallenberg Global Learning Network (WGLN). The project builds on a solid theoretical foundation of scholarship in intercultural communication, rhetoric, and pedagogy and technology to offer students the rare and valuable opportunity for active learning of cross-cultural writing, research, rhetorical analysis, and presentation skills. Read more about the theoretical foundation


With the New Year came new experiments in using technology to connect students across the globe. This time, Alyssa O’Brien and Christine Alfano co-taught the PWR 2 course in “Cross-Cultural Rhetoric,” and the project benefited tremendously from Christine’s expertise in technology and web design, as students in the Winter could consult the course website to learn the cross-cultural activities planned for the quarter (http://www.stanford.edu/group/ccr/w07/), and they learned to write on both blogs and a class wiki.


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