This special issue is devoted to a study of an action research-based reform of a US university study abroad programme to make it a genuine intercultural immersion experience. The four-year collaborative reform process combined participatory organisational redesign, the development of a comprehensive active learning approach and the teaching of intercultural competence through ethnographic immersion and community engagement in Seville, Spain. The case is an example of the development of intercultural competencies through guided behavioural change, of action research to reform higher education programmes and of active learning combined with formative and summative evaluation. The reader will learn about the experiences of the staff, faculty and mentors in the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)-Sevilla study abroad programme and those of the sponsoring US universities as they together achieved a fundamental reform of a decades-old study abroad immersion programme. This special issue has many authors because this was a collaborative action-research project with continuous group work and brainstorming. The authors’ names are placed in the sections where the authorship is clear, but, as befits a collaboration, many of the ideas are the result of the combined thinking of all the authors. Authorship of the various sections has been allocated mainly to clarify for readers the most relevant author to contact to learn more about particular dimensions of the process. The guest editors took on the editorial duties on behalf of this larger group.
Eva Infante Mora, Davydd J. Greenwood, and Melina Ivanchikova
Part 5: Organisational changes required by the reform of the CASA-Sevilla study abroad programme
Eva Infante Mora, Marina Markot, Stephen Capobianco, Melina Ivanchikova, Richard Kiely, Richard Feldman, and Amy Cheatle
The action research process initiated in 2015 to make a thorough reform of the CASA-Sevilla study-abroad programme not only produced significant pedagogical developments but also brought about a profound change in the way of working and relating within the programme work organisation itself and with Cornell University colleagues. This section focuses on organisational changes in each of the units involved, and reflects a path full of transitions, diplomacy, exchange of perspectives and inter-institutional as well as intercultural learning. To make these pedagogical reforms work in practice required significant organisational change and support efforts on the part of both CASA-Sevilla and the supporting organisations at Cornell University.
Part 2: The development of an active pedagogy
Eva Infante Mora, Juan Muñoz Andrade, Davydd Greenwood, Richard Feldman, Melina Ivanchikova, Jorge Cívico Gallardo, and Purificación García Saez
This section discusses how the changing students’ experiences necessitated a rethinking of the educational programme and the development of an active pedagogy. The reform used two powerful instruments: an adaptation of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which allows the language coordinator to evaluate the linguistic needs of students upon arrival (and the students to recognise their own strengths and weaknesses) and to design strategies that help them improve during the semester; and the new Common Framework for Intercultural Learning, inspired by the former, which allows students to acquire and improve behavioural intercultural skills through self-managed research practices. This section describes how the language teaching reform was carried out in the programme, the role of the Common Framework for Intercultural Learning, the role of the mentors who accompany students in their learning paths throughout the semester and describes the combined use of these tools.
Part 3: Disciplines in an active voice
Eva Infante Mora, Davydd Greenwood, Melina Ivanchikova, Carmen Castilla-Vázquez, Rafael Cid-Rodríguez, Bartolomé Miranda Díaz, and Gustavo A. Flores-Macías
This section of the account of the action research and thorough reform of the CASA-Sevilla study abroad programme describes how the courses in the fields of anthropology, history and art / art history were changed. It explains why a pedagogical reform was needed, the choices faculty members made and the difficulties they faced. Transitioning to an active pedagogy has not been an easy path for faculty. The accounts show how they integrated independent intercultural research into their classes and how they reacted to their new roles as intercultural mentors. It also includes a description of the faculty member-in-residence's role in the programme and reflections on the reform by the faculty member who served as Cornell representative in CASA-Sevilla during the 2016–2017 academic year.