Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Norbert Mundorf

Abstract

This thesis discusses a study in the area of intercultural communication and environmental sustainability. The purpose of this study is to examine if and how an international online debate can influence intercultural sensitivity, intercultural awareness and perception of sustainability. Intercultural informational exchanges took place in an online debate format focusing on a framework of sustainability topics. The study specifically reports the results of international online debate exchanges between students in the United States and China. Both American and Chinese student took pre- and post-tests to measure their intercultural sensitivity and intercultural awareness before and after the debate. By using questionnaire and interview methods, this study presents data pertaining to qualitative and quantitative assessment of research outcomes. The study discusses the findings of the impact of online debates on intercultural skills and students participation in sustainability activities, with an emphasis on the future potential of the international online debate. The results showed that the international online debate encouraged both U.S and Chinese students to understand more about their counterparts’ culture, and has helped them be more sensitive towards cultural differences with their counterparts. Findings also indicate that this debate format is a suitable tool to raise awareness of sustainability issues.

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