FAS310 Syllabus

University General Requirement Unit
Humanities, Arts or Social Sciences Requirement

Course Title: FAS 310 – Human Behavior in a Cross-cultural Context (PDF version)
Lecture Hours: 3 hours per week, fall semester 2010
Lab Hours: 0
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: None


Name: Prof. Gregory Mavrides
Office: Library 304
Phone: 050-901-7670 or 9712-407-0574
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office Hours: As posted and via email, office visitation and telephone, immediate consultation after class if schedule permits, or by appointments.

Course Description

FAS 310, Human Behavior in a Cross-cultural Context, provides students with a extensive study of the differing values, ethics and attitudes across cultures with specific reference to both norms and prohibitions in business relationships. Topics include cultural identity and biases; verbal and nonverbal intercultural communication; code usage; and developing cross-cultural competence in interpersonal relationships.

Course Objectives

  1. To develop students ability to work in an environment that has different cultural practices
  2. To enhance students’ understanding about the changing world that has significant bearing upon business decisions.
  3. To familiarize students with how people around the global with different cultural practices interact with each other.
  4. To create an awareness of cross-cultural similarities and differences in human behaviour, as well as the skills and techniques necessary for conducting international business communications in any culture.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Appreciate the differing values, ethics and attitudes with reference to cultural practices and prohibitions in business relationships.
  • Acquire the required skills to deal with problems related to cultural identity and differences.
  • Contribute positively to intercultural integration using communication as the medium.

Course Evaluation

Your final course grade will be based on the following measurements:

  • Two Quizzes (one before the midterm, one after the midterm): Self-Assessment
  • Midterm Exam (50 multiple-choice questions): 45%
  • Final Exam (cumulative: 80% new material; 20% midterm material; 50 multiple-choice questions): 55%

The midterm exam will cover the first six chapters of our textbook. The final exam will emphasize (70%) the material covered during the second half of class (chapters 7 to 12) but, per University policy, will also include some material (30%) from the first six chapters.

Please Note: Exam questions are drawn from class lectures. The midterm and final exam will be given during the midterm and final exam periods respectively.

Course Textbook

Myron W. Lustig and Jolene Koester, Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures, 3rd ed. (Longman, 1999).

Other Reference

David A. Victor, International Business Communication (Harper Collins, 1992).

Class Policies

  1. Class starts on time, i.e., 12:00 or 1:30 pm and the lecture typically runs for 65 to 70 minutes with time remaining for questions and answers.
  2. Attendance will be taken at the end of class. Three (3) students must be present within 15 minutes after the start of class or the class will end early due to insufficient attendance. Students who arrive after a class has ended early will not receive credit for attending that class. Students are responsible for the course material that would have been covered during that class if there had been sufficient attendance.
  3. Students are expected to bring a pen and notebook to every class. Students may digitally record the lectures.
  4. Students are expected to download and read the PowerPoint slides before each class.
  5. One chapter will be covered each week (two lectures per chapter). Exam questions are drawn from the lecture material. Each lecture constitutes your exam “revision.”
  6. There are no formal or traditional "revisions" before the exams: you will not be told what to “focus on” or which slides to “concentrate on.”
  7. There is simply no way to do well in my courses unless you have spent time reading the material, have studied it, and have attended the lectures and taken notes.
  8. Cell phone use is strictly forbidden during lectures. I will stop lecturing if I see a cell phone in use.
  9. There are two graded exams and two practice quizzes (self-assessment). There are also a variety of practice questions on my website (mavrides.net). Quiz and practice questions will NEVER be reused on midterm and final exams. Do NOT waste your time memorizing quiz and practice questions.
  10. Midterm exam is worth 45% and final exam is worth 55% of your course grade. Both exams are composed of 50 multiple choice questions.
  11. There are no “copy and paste” presentations and projects, no bonus questions or points, and no extra points for “classroom participation.” Your final course grade is based entirely on your performance on 100 multiple choice questions.
  12. You must earn a raw score of 32 out of 100 questions (32 percent) to pass the class (16 out of 50 questions for each exam). Exam scores will be curved by a maximum of 18 points or up to an average class score of 50 (for both sections), whichever number is lower.
  13. The midterm exam scores will be posted on my website (mavrides.net) before the next class. Midterm exams will be returned to you on the first class following midterm exam week. All questions and answers will be reviewed in detail. You will not be able to keep the exam and doing so won’t help you because midterm questions are not reused.
  14. The final exam is 20 percent cumulative: 10 questions on the final exam will cover midterm material.
  15. You are entirely responsible for your own GPA: I assume no responsibility for your grades and will not and cannot make concessions for “special circumstances,” e.g., students who have to work full time, students who are full time homemakers with children, students who had to care for sick relatives, etc.
  16. Students who do not earn a minimum raw score of 32 percent (32 out of 100 questions) will fail the class.

Course Calendar

Essentially, we are going to cover one chapter in our textbook per week. We will have six weeks of classes followed by "midterm week," followed by another six weeks of classes, and, then, two remaining weeks in the semester for final exams.


Textbook Chapter and Summary

  1. Introduction to Intercultural Competence
    • The Imperative for Intercultural Competence
    • The Challenge of Living in an Intercultural World
  1. Communication, Culture, and Cultural Differences
    • Interpersonal Communication
    • Defining Culture for the Study of Communication
    • The Interrelatedness of Cultural Forces
  1. Intercultural Communication Competence
    • Similarities and Differences Between Communicators
    • Intercultural and Intracultural Communication
    • Intracultural Communication Competence
  1. Cultural Patterns and Communication: Foundation
    • Components of Cultural Patterns
    • The Functions of Cultural Patterns
    • Cultural Patterns and Intercultural Competence
  1. Cultural Patterns and Communication:
    • Taxonomies
    • Taxonomies of Cultural Patterns (Hall, Hofstede, and Bond)
    • Cultural Taxonomies and Intercultural Competence
  1. Cultural Identity, Cultural Biases, and Intercultural Contact
    • The Formation and Characteristics of Cultural Identity
    • Social Categorizing and Overcoming Cultural Biases
    • Dominance and Subordination Between Groups
    • Cultural Identify and Intercultural Competence
  • Midterm Exam: Chapters 1 to 6 based on class lectures
  1. Verbal Intercultural Communication
    • The Power of Language in Intercultural Communication
    • Definition of Verbal Codes
    • Language, Thought, Culture, and Intercultural Communication
    • Verbal Codes and Intercultural Competence
  1. Nonverbal Intercultural Communication
    • Relationship of Nonverbal to Verbal Communication
    • Cultural Universals in Nonverbal Communication
    • Cultural Variations in Nonverbal Communication
    • Nonverbal Message in Intercultural Communication
    • Synchrony of Nonverbal Communication Codes
    • Nonverbal Communication and Intercultural Competence
  1. The Effects of Code Usage in Intercultural Communication
    • Cultural Variations in Persuasion
    • Preferences in the Organization of Verbal Codes
    • Cultural Variations in the Structure of Conversations
    • Effects of Code Usage on Intercultural Competence
  1. Intercultural Competence in Interpersonal Relationships
    • Cultural Variations in Interpersonal Relationships
    • The Maintenance of Face in Interpersonal Relationships
    • Improving Intercultural Relationships
    • Interpersonal Relationships and Intercultural Competence
  1. Episodes, Contexts, and Intercultural Interactions
    • Social Episodes in Intercultural Relationships
    • Contexts for Intercultural Communication (Health-Care, Education, Business)
  1. The Potential for Intercultural Competence
    • Basic Tools for Improving Intercultural Competence
    • Outcomes of Intercultural Contact
    • The Ethics of Intercultural Competence
  • Review (Student Questions)
  • Final Exam: Chapters 7 to 12 (80%), 1 to 6 (20%) based on class lectures
Category: FAS310 Human Behavior