Join the growing movement of educators and businesses working to increase cultural awareness and understanding in their organisations

At AFS, we see a country where individuals, schools, institutions and businesses are empowered to actively work towards advancing intercultural understanding, transforming their organisations and their communities.

With more than 70 years of experience in delivering effective intercultural learning programmes, AFS activates global citizens, providing the educational tools and training required for modern workplaces and schools to succeed both on a local and international scale.

The following resources provide practical and effective ways to promote global competence in the classroom and in the workplace.

What is Intercultural Learning?

Intercultural learning is a process that leads to deeper awareness and understanding of one’s own cultural identity (norms, behaviours, relationships and visions), those of other cultures and how to interact mindfully and authentically across the difference between these.

Why should intercultural learning be incorporated into education?
  • Broaden perspectives
  • Learn and respect differences
  • Communicate and collaborate across cultures
  • Appreciate other cultures
  • Build critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Key concepts of Intercultural Learning

Global Competence: The capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures and to act for collective well-being.

Global Citizenship Education: Aims to empower learners to engage and assume active roles, both locally and globally, to face and resolve global challenges and ultimately to become proactive contributors to a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable world.

Diversity: Individual and group differences in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It also encompasses understanding that each individual is unique, and that our individual differences, pluralism of perspectives, views and practices ought to be positively regarded, appreciated and cherished.

International Education: Education that transcends national borders by the exchange of people, for example, by students travelling to study abroad, as part of an exchange program.

Global Competence Certificate

The AFS Global Competence Certificate is designed to help learners develop intercultural competence and deal with cultural adjustment – skills essential to successfully navigate today’s diverse world.

The content, now available in 7 languages, is an 18 module video-based digital learning programme with the following key educational goals:

  • Self-awareness
  • Awareness about others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Bridges across difference

Travel with an open mind and maximise your student exchange – Equipped with the knowledge, skills and understanding to appreciate and interact with different cultures, students can enjoy a more meaningful intercultural experience, establish valuable international connections and come home with a broadened perspective about themselves and the world around them.

Stand out in the job market – Being Globally Competent has become increasingly important to all those entering or moving within the workforce. Many employers now recognise the importance of diversity and cultural intelligence in the workplace.

Capitalise on cultural diversity in the workplace – With the AFS Global Competence Certificate, businesses can improve performance by unlocking the potential of cultural diversity in their own organisation and community.

Click here to find out more about the Global Competence Certificate
ICL diagram

School Readiness Index

The AFS Global Competence Readiness Index for Schools and Institutions is a self-assessment tool that helps schools of any kind identify their position in terms of fostering global competence and supporting educators to further develop teaching practices that create global competence.

The index examines 12 elements that promote global competence and will help you reflect on how your institution complies with these. Once you complete the questionnaire, you will receive the preparation profile of your institution, as well as specific recommendations and resources to identify new opportunities in your own classroom teaching practices and throughout the school to improve your students’ global competence.

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Lesson Plans

These links provide effective resources for all kinds of educators. Whether this be incorporating activities into the classroom, holding special lessons or seminars that relate to intercultural learning, or inspiration for a whole curriculum. These lesson resources will help educators engage students to broaden their understanding of global competence and diversity.

How teachers can DIVE into intercultural topics
  • Learn about conducting a lesson in your classroom on intercultural learning topics,
  • Learn how to use this lesson plan to develop critical thinking, suspend judgement, and inspire curiosity in high school students,
  • Adopt a new practical tool to use when encountering differences in everyday life to have more effective, appropriate and meaningful interactions with others.
Create empathy and understanding for refugees by using student videos
  • Understand and be able to explain who migrants and refugees are
  • Have a better understanding of the different reasons why people migrate
  • Have an improved understanding of the consequences of migrations
  • Develop empathy and appreciation for the displaced people
  • Understand the value of education


Be inspired by this series of webinars dedicated to Global Competence with experts from around the world.

by Julia Taleisnik, AFS Argentina and Elisa Briga, European Federation for Intercultural Learning
What is intercultural competence and how can teachers develop interculturally competent citizens prepared to make an impact in the world? Given its importance for societies, education systems (including Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA) and personal and professional development, this webinar will explore different ways in which educators can implement intercultural competence development into the classroom, the benefits of doing so, and the important role educators have in the process. Take-aways include best-practice sharing and access to toolkits and lesson plans for educators to use in the classroom.

Deeper Insights to Better Understand the Arab, Muslim World, by Sherifa Fayez, AFS Egypt
Who are the real Arabs? What else is out there besides the wealth, violence and “incomprehensible” Islam? This webinar aims at lifting the veil of the pervasive reductionist perspectives on the Middle East. It will give you useful insights to better support students going to and coming from the Middle East and it will hopefully encourage you to learn more on your own.

The Missing Piece – Supporting Host Families of Study Abroad Participants by Marcela Lapertosa, AFS Intercultural Programs and Carla Rey Vasquez, AFS New Zealand

The role host families play in study abroad programs and learning outcomes they gain from the experience are largely unexplored. In this webinar we will explore what research shows about the part host families play in international education and look into best practices to make sure we double up impact when helping people develop intercultural competence. Based on AFS Intercultural Programs Host Family Intercultural Learning Journey, we will share practical approaches and activities to be used before, during and after the intercultural experience.

More webinars

Other educational videos discussing global competence, diversity and global citizenship education.

Hugh Evans started a movement that mobilizes “global citizens,” people who self-identify first and foremost not as members of a state, nation or tribe but as members of the human race. In this uplifting and personal talk, learn more about how this new understanding of our place in the world is galvanizing people to take action in the fights against extreme poverty, climate change, gender inequality and more. “These are ultimately global issues,” Evans says, “and they can ultimately only be solved by global citizens demanding global solutions from their leaders.”



AFS offers a range of interactive workshops for teachers, staff, volunteers, students and host families aiming at helping them develop intercultural communication skills to be able to navigate a diverse world.

Click here to find out more about workshops

Good Reads

Together with a number of content partners, AFS is convening the AFS Global Conference under the topic “Global Competence: Our Future, Our Responsibility” in Budapest this September. Here, some of the distinguished guest speakers share their insights on global competence

Becoming Globally Competent is a Journey of Growth

Connie Rensink of World Savvy, an education nonprofit that works to integrate global competence into classrooms and prepare young people to meet the challenges of 21st century citizenship, discusses the necessary strategies and tools needed to integrate global competence in school curricula.

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Developing Global Competence Requires Patience and Openness

Balázs Dezsényi of Teach For Hungary, an educational organization that focuses on social impact and cultivating leadership, says “Acknowledging different perspectives, understanding new concepts, and sharing your ideas are all scary at first for young people. So educators need to take people step by step…”

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Taking Education to a Global Scale Can’t be Left to Chance

Dr. Anthony Jackson of Asia Society, an educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and partnerships between Asia and the United States, shares innovative practices that educators and organizations have developed to advance global competence.

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AFS Perspectives: Helping the world learn to live together

Written by AFS experts from around the world, this blog champions diverse perspectives about culture and education, inspiring readers to become intercultural leaders of their communities.

Read Perspectives

Connect: Intercultural Insights for Global Citizens

This digital magazine explores intercultural and global citizenship education, voluntarism and social impact, through articles, interviews, and learning tools created by respected thought leaders and experts.

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Intercultural Learning (ICL) for AFS & Friends

Series of insightful and concise essays on key intercultural concepts based on research and practical experiences. The series is produced by AFS education experts for anyone studying about or working with intercultural topics.

Access the series