Whose act(ing)? Intercultural educators in critical conversation on ethical practice across disciplines


  • Anna Santucci University of Rhode Island
  • Kristin Johnson University of Rhode Island
  • Donna Gamache-Griffiths University of Rhode Island




Culture, Critically reflective practice, Ethics, Interdisciplinarity, Positionality, Emphaty


This piece introduces and recreates a critical dialogue which occurred in the summer of 2021 among educational practitioners at the University of Rhode Island (USA), during an interdisciplinary teach-in retreat on Intercultural Competence Development for Teachers and Learners. The authors were among the participants who collaborated on this project led by Anna Santucci; here, they offer a snapshot of the exchange that took place on the final day of the retreat. The themes that emerged throughout the teach-in, summarized in that closing conversation, significantly resonate with the RISE Manifesto (Cañas, 2015). These themes include salient values, skills, and behaviors of interculturally competent educators and scholars whose understanding of ethical practice is grounded in empathy, and whose work strives to embrace radical creativity in envisioning possibilities for co-creation among all participants in the teaching and/or research experience – enacting education through and for "action" via human act-ivation and, therefore, act-ivism.

Author Biographies

Anna Santucci, University of Rhode Island

Anna Santucci is Faculty Development Specialist at the University of Rhode Island (US). She holds a BA in Modern Languages (Padova, Italy), an MA in English (Nottingham, UK), and an Open Graduate Education PhD combining Italian Studies and Theatre Arts & Performance Studies (Brown University, US). As a believer in education for liberation, she passionately facilitates post-secondary educators’ growth around learning-centered, evidence-based, and reflective teaching. Her international scholarship and practice focus on systemically supporting equitable success for all teachers and learners, fostering justice via critically inclusive pedagogies informed by applied theatre, performance activism, language education, and intercultural teaching and learning.

Kristin Johnson, University of Rhode Island

Kristin Johnson is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. Her commitment to intercultural competence in teaching stems from supporting global experience across her courses in Comparative and International Politics. She is the Director of the URI International Studies & Diplomacy Program, and former Director of the International Relations Graduate Program and Co-Director of the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. Her scholarship on teaching practice focuses on bringing global experiences into the classroom and in social justice. She is currently serving as the Interim Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at URI.

Donna Gamache-Griffiths, University of Rhode Island

Donna Gamache-Griffiths is a senior business law lecturer at the University of Rhode Island. Before this, she spent many years in international corporate legal practice. She now develops legal courses across undergraduate and graduate programs and oversees the International Business Program, one of the University of Rhode Island's signature dual-degree programs. A proud alumna of the URI College of Business, she earned her JD at Roger Williams University School of Law and her Ph.D. in Humanities at Salve Regina University. Donna is also a practicing attorney and teaches at URI's partner schools in Hungary, Hamburg, and Rennes.


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