::Interview of Stephen M. Croucher, Ph.D.::

For those of you who do not know, the Master's Degree Programme in Intercultural Communication of the University of Jyväskylä has a new professor. 
Stephen M. Croucher, Ph.D. started working in Jyväskylä in September 2012. 

InCoMaS went on an interview mission to know more about him and his plans for the future of ICC. 

InCoMaS: Where do you come from and where were you working before coming here?
Stephen Croucher: I come from the United States. I lived in many states before I came here, but before I moved to Finland I lived about 1 hour and a half north of NY City in small town of around 45 to 50 thousand people. It really isn’t that small I guess, but for NY standard it can be considered small. I taught at a small private catholic College called Marist College.
(FYI: If you want to know more about his background check out his CV: here)

InCoMaS: How did you hear about the job offer here at the University?
SC: I got a random email one day from someone, I can’t even remember who, who said that this position was open and that they would recommend I apply. So I said University of “Jyvas”? “Javas”? “Jabwhat”? I couldn’t pronounce the name at first. I had to go online and looked at the website of the Department and at the programme for the ICC, and said well this is what I do and I had wanted to live and teach in Europe for a while and so we talked about it at home and said, why not?

InCoMaS: You’ve been here for four months now. How has it been going so far? Was it like you expected?
SC: We are getting along really well. In many ways it is like I expected. I expected some things to be like at home and others to be different. I expected that the living conditions, like the house would be smaller. Our apartment is a lot smaller but that’s normal, most apartments in Europe are generally smaller. I spent a lot of time in France when I was doing my doctoral work and apartments were smaller there as well. And you don’t normally go to the store and buy a lot, you go more often and buy a little each time. I expected those things to be different but I think that for a lot of Americans who maybe don’t live or spend much time abroad it would be more shocking.

InCoMaS: So you didn’t have a major culture shock?
SC: Not really yet. Except for the linguistic side. But for instance health care issues for me aren’t really much of a shock really just because being overseas before I had experiences with it so I think that helps quite a bit.

InCoMaS: What are you main objectives concerning the Master’s Programme in Intercultural Communication?
SC: I think the programme really needs to stress practical, theoretical, and methodological benefits of an education. I think each area needs to be more developed. And that’s one of the reasons why I am doing more research projects with the students. I think that can help build more of an understanding of how theories and methods mix with one another. I think doing more of that can show students more of how this programme isn’t just very practical for them. I think a lot of students know that, the internship does a really good job at showing students the practical side of ICC. But some of those I talked to have not really seen the research or theoretical benefits. They know it’s there but they haven’t had the experience of doing that. That’s why I think doing more research projects and building that in the classes can help build that up.
And we’re also trying to develop how the internships project is designed, the idea is that it’s not more work for the student but more beneficial, trying to make it a little bit better.
The last thing to develop is doing more PR for the ICC programme. The thing I noticed is that outside of Finland and parts of Europe not many people know about the programme, and that’s a shame. If you go to the United States – and I’m not saying we have to compete with the US, that’s not my argument – but there’s no reason why people there or anywhere else can’t know about what we’re doing here. And I think that one of the reasons why I was hired actually was that I am international outside of Europe and that I can help bridge the gap between what we’re doing here and what’s being done outside of Northern Europe.

InCoMaS: Do you have a favourite research are?
SC: I really like looking at how immigrants adapt to a new culture. That’s where I started with my Master’s thesis work looking at Chinese immigrants in Canada. I’ve done quite a bit since then. I’ve looked at some other areas that interest me here and there but I’m now going more and more back to that question of how immigration process impact X-group.

InCoMaS: Besides the research projects you are working on with the students from the Master’s Programme, are you currently working on anything else?
SC: One thing I’m trying to do now is to collect data in four countries, along with the data we’re collecting for our projects, basically to test the hypothesis, looking at how does fusion happen. Really there’s one main theory in communication that looks at the acculturation process and it’s Kim’s work on cross-cultural adaptation, and one of the arguments I’ve made is that fusion probably is the best models to look at. That people fuse their identity with the identity of the main culture. Some other individuals have argued that fusion does exist and that people create a hybrid identity. The problem is that we don’t have any testable model that we can look at. We have this nebulous idea that we look at up there but there really isn’t a testable model. So what I propose is a testable theory of cultural fusion and it’s now under review.

We would like to thank Stephen Croucher for accepting our invitation 
and Mélodine for conducting the interview.

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