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The Enthnographic Interview

The Enthnographic Interview

Tool Objectives:

  1. To become familiar with the fundamental principles of ethnographic inquiry and to identify basic elements in the ethnographic interview.
  2. To practice skills related to developing rapport with an informant and selecting appropriate questions.
  3. To reflect upon the role of ethnographic writing in the cultural learning process.

Tool Description:

Education abroad is about helping students change structures, learn new ways of thinking, and become more complex, interculturally competent individuals. Ethnographic inquiry offers the field of education abroad a learning paradigm through which to engage students in serious cultural and intercultural learning. Because ethnography is at its most basic a culture learning approach, it can be integrated within all forms of education abroad programming, regardless of program type, location or duration.

It is not an assumption of this tool that students can and should become apprentice ethnographers engaged in carrying out fieldwork. Rather, ethnography at its most fundamental level of inquiry can be reframed to guide students toward becoming autonomous cultural learners and explorers, who can describe, understand, analyze, appreciate, and enjoy intercultural differences.

Tool Procedures:

  1. Introduction. Provide students with a brief introduction of ethnography as a tradition in qualitative research. Define and discuss the role of informants. Make a list of potential informants that students can realistically interview while abroad.
  1. Interview Practice. In groups of three, have students practice conducting ethnographic interviewing (interviewer, interviewee, observer). Debrief the practice session by asking students what questions worked, what didn’t work and why. Assist students with using descriptive and structural questions. Advise students on the ethical principles involved in conducting qualitative research.
  1. Assignment. The assignment has been designed to allow students to choose among three options. Discuss the options, while remaining open to other suggestions from students. If students are not fluent in the language or dialect of the host country, allow them to conduct their interviews in English. Facilitate a discussion about the importance of language in ethnographic research, noting the limitations language barriers pose on data collection.
  1. In-country Support.  Students will need support and guidance throughout the international travel component. If time allows, invite students to meet with you privately before conducting their interviews to discuss their preparations, choice of informant and topic. Students may also need assistance upon return with organizing and presenting their findings.
  1. Optional.  If class time allows upon return, have each student make a brief presentation of their interview findings and what they’ve learned from this process.

Tool Evaluation:

This assignment could be worth up to 30% of the course grade. Students should be assessed on their success with conducting the ethnographic interview and on the organization, presentation and depth of their written analyses. There should be no minimum page length for the assignment.

Tool Time Requirement:

One class session (pre-departure)

Tool Author(s):

Adapted by A. Ogden & S. Roulon, 2009 from Field Projects in Anthropology: A Student Handbook, 1992.

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]:
The Ethnographic Interview Handout

Episode 29: Cultural Lens on U.S. Higher Education: Analyzing International Perceptions of 'Anti-Woke’ Discourse

Dive into a nuanced exploration of the global discourse surrounding higher education in the United States. Join us for a panel discussion with esteemed international educators as we embark on a journey through the lenses of culture and international perspective, examining how global audiences interpret and engage with the ‘anti-woke’ discourse within the context of U.S. higher education. This engaging panel discussion will delve into the intersections of culture, ideology, and education, and the complex landscape of how international audiences perceive the ‘anti-woke’ narrative that has emerged within U.S. academia.

Whether you’re a senior international officer, or simply curious about the diverse viewpoints shaping U.S. higher education, this podcast episode will provide an invaluable space for critical analysis and insightful conversations.

Speaker Biography:

Fanta Aw is a distinguished leader in international education, renowned for her extensive contributions to global learning, cross-cultural understanding, and educational equity. With a deep commitment to fostering connections between diverse cultures and promoting educational excellence, she has significantly impacted the international education community.

Fanta Aw’s career has been characterized by her dedication to advancing global education initiatives, promoting diversity and inclusion, and nurturing partnerships that transcend borders. She has held influential roles in various organizations, advocating for the importance of international collaboration and learning experiences that empower individuals to navigate an increasingly interconnected world.

As a thought leader and visionary, Fanta Aw’s insights and expertise have shaped discussions on the future of international education, emphasizing the significance of equitable access, cultural exchange, and lifelong learning. Her work has not only elevated institutions but has also inspired countless individuals to embrace the transformative power of global education.

Date: September 14th, 2023
Time: 12 noon ET

Sponsored by:

Mark Beirn


An experienced global researcher and administrator, Mark Beirn brings a critical approach to risk management, factoring structural racism and identity-based violence into his rubric for supporting equitable global mobility.

Specialization Areas:

– Global Risk Management
– Education Abroad
– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in International Education
– Health and Safety
– Curriculum Development


Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

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Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.