NTNU Globalization Research Programme

Focus Area: Intercultural Dynamics: Communication, Responsibility and Development

Intercultural Dynamics is a multi-disciplinary Focus Area which promotes research into the  relationships, interplay, negotiations and tensions which operate between different cultures in the world. An important aim is to foster the exploration of cultural borders and intercultural contact from perspectives associated with the humanities and thereby to strengthen the involvement of the humanities within NTNU's Globalisation Programme more broadly. The Focus Area brings together the work of scholars working within philosophy, linguistics, literary studies, architecture, urban planning, political and social sciences and other areas.

Emphasis is given to contemporary intercultural dynamics and to normative approaches which seek to identify constructive ideas for the shaping of future interculturalism. The Focus Area does not, though, exclude historicist analyses of intercultural issues and welcomes research into events and conditions which produced contemporary phenomena and situations.

Within the area of Intercultural Dynamics three interconnected issues are prioritised for particular attention: communication, responsibility and development. Each of these generates a number of questions and problems:

Intercultural communication

  • What is the nature of contemporary communication between different cultures and different linguistic groups?
  • What are the conditions for second-language development and for language contact more generally in different parts of the world?
  • What ethical questions are pertinent in the development of different cultures' language policies?
  • What role do different forms of ‘cultural expression' – for example, literature and music – have in intercultural communication?
  • How are evolving technologies modifying intercultural communication and international political discourse?
  • What is the role of democratic communication practices in the resolution of conflicts relating to religion in the wake of the September 11thattacks?

Intercultural responsibility

  • What responsibilities are/should be taken by agents involved in intercultural activities, particularly where the relation crosses a political/ethical divide?
  • What is the role of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in intercultural situations – for example in trade between democratic and non-democratic countries?
  • What role can/should the arts and humanities have in mediating or promoting intercultural responsibility?
  • How should responsibility towards people suffering from problems resulting from conflict be shared across national borders?

Intercultural development

  • What intercultural challenges are presented to the global community as it confronts problems – particularly climate change and the increasing scarcity of resources – which transcend borders? 
  • What responsibilities do/should developed countries have towards developing countries, and how are these shaped by ethical and environmental considerations?
  • What role can/should the arts and humanities have in mediating or promoting global development? How can politically engaged forms of literary criticism – notably ecocriticism – contribute to global development?
  • What is the impact of intercultural dynamics upon the urban spatial domain and upon the management and governance of space (urban and non-urban)?


Examples of current projects associated with this Focus Area are:

  • Conference series: ‘Can and should all countries become democracies?' (2010);  follow up workshop: ‘Democracy and violence – peace building' (2011).
  • PhD course: ‘Deliberating Controversies in Globalization Theory, Methodology and Ethics' (5-6 September 2011).
  • EU project (ESF): ‘Rights to a green future' (beginning Spring 2011).
  • Workshop in cooperation with NTNU's strategic area Marine and Maritime Research: ‘Aquaculture: Dilemmas, misunderstandings and value differences: A multidisciplinary discussion' (October 2011).
  • Workshop in cooperation with focus group Global Economic Flows, Governance and Stability: ‘Globalisation, Governance and Natural Resources' (August/September 2011).
  • Ongoing work on ‘Translating Cultures', a strategic research area at NTNU's Department of Modern Languages.
  • A group of linguists at the Faculty of Humanities is preparing a project proposal for a Centre of Excellence, to be submitted to the Norwegian Research Council in June 2011. This project will include research on language contact and change. Preliminary title: ‘Dynamic Systems in Language and Cognition'.
  • Indian linguists will visit NTNU during NTNU's ‘India Week' (October 2011). Several guest lectures and meetings are planned during this arrangement, which is called ‘Linguistics and Language description and documentation in the Indian Subcontinent'.
  • Conference on ‘Urban India' to illustrate innovations in urban management that have emerged in response to globalization and its consequences for space and governance (4-6 October 2011, during ‘India Week').
  • ‘Understanding and envisioning the Global city and the Global City Region: Diversity, governance and urban responsibility', research seminar planned for November -December, 2011

Contact person

Professor May Thorseth

Department of Philosophy

Faculty of Humanitites

E mail: may.thorseth@ntnu.no