What’s Up With Culture

Crisis CommunicationCultureStudy AbroadCognitive Constructivism

What’s Up With Culture is a free online tutorial primarily for study abroad students.  It is meant to orient learners to key concepts of intercultural communication and adjustment.

What's Up With Culture screenshot
What's Up With Culture homepage screenshot

Tool Snapshot

Price Free
Learning Cognitive Constructivism
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What's Up with Culture Overview

What’s Up with Culture (WUWC) is a free online tutorial that orients learners to key concepts of intercultural communication and adjustment. It was designed specifically for students preparing for study abroad, yet it could be used to augment any discussion on culture and diversity. This self-directed tutorial has three modules: pre-departure, re-entry, and a glossary/bibliography section, but nothing is stopping you from using elements of this tool for reinforcement activities while students are abroad as well. Its design does not require linear progression through modules — it is possible to start anywhere and skip through different sections. The site is not meant to be a stand-alone course nor a substitution for in-person orientations to study abroad programs.

WUWC was originally funded by the US Department of Education and designed by faculty at the University of the Pacific’s School of International Service in 2003, which still hosts the site. Unfortunately, both the site’s design and its content badly need updating if it is to be attractive — and more importantly — relevant to university students.  

What’s Up With Culture Overview Video

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What’s Up With Culture & the SAMR Model

Substitution:  A student uses WUWC to learn about intercultural concepts at his/her own and pace and on his/her own schedule. This replaces a classroom lecture or necessity of purchasing/accessing a specific book.

Augmentation: Students cut and paste completed activities from WUWC and send them by email to their teacher or peers (instead of exchanging papers) who can then compile and summarize the range of responses.

Modification: WUWC is not sufficiently flexible on its own to reach the modification stage of SAMR

Redefinition: WUWC is not sufficiently flexible on its own to reach the redefinition stage of SAMR.

Glass globe in hand

Learning Activities


Students complete one or more of the self-assessment inventories from WUWC, export the data, and compile class statistics. Students research comparable data (e.g., Hofstede studies) gathered from other populations and compare results in graphic form.

History/Social Studies

Students search the WUWC site for references to particular geographical/political locations and map them; discuss why some areas of the world might receive more attention than others for a site like this.

Students research the backgrounds of the organizations and individuals that contributed to the development of WUWC and discuss how cultural lenses and blinders may influence the production of knowledge.

Have students compare and contrast intercultural concepts as presented by WUWC with those they may have learned through discussions and study of race and diversity in the US context.  

For American students: find examples of how non-Americans describe Americans or what advice non-Americans provide about studying in the US; ask students to critique the example and respond with an article or video which might more accurately represent the experience of studying in the US as a foreigner.  

English/Language Arts

Students interview one another and create examples of ‘critical incidents’ as modeled on WUWC, with analysis of cultural differences.   More generally, students can also critically examine how and what information is presented on this site (e.g., how the site may perpetuate or combat issues of power and bias). 

Students find examples of cultural clash and adjustment in novels, short stories, poetry or non-fiction reading, and determine the degree to which the concepts introduced in WUWC might help to understand (or obfuscate) what is described.


Students work in small groups to choose one of the concepts introduced in WUWC, create a skit in the target language which demonstrates an cross-cultural interaction and highlights the value of the concept.  


How to Use What’s Up With Culture

  1. Go to the What's Up with Culture homepage.
  2. There is no need to register.
  3. Click the module links on the left margin to see an overview of the course.
  4. Use the next arrows to navigate to subsequent pages.
  5. Complete reflection activities and exercises as they appear.  Warning:  cut and paste or use screenshots to save your work to your desktop, since the content will disappear when you navigate away from the page.


Duke, S. (2016) The Importance of Intercultural Learning in Study Abroad. In J. Rhodes (Ed.), Advancing Teacher Education and Curriculum Development through Study Abroad Programs, (pp 74-89). Location. IGI Global.

Global Scholar is an online tool launched in 2016 which appears to be a revision and extension of the original WUWC tutorial.  

This content is provided to you freely by EdTech Books.

Access it online or download it at https://edtechbooks.org/onlinetools/whatsupwithculture.