Through the Intercultural Learning Hub, affectionately known as "the HubICL," Purdue University's Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentoring, Assessment, and Research (CILMAR) is striving to create the online intercultural resource for specialists, professors, and students. The HubICL should become a "one-stop-shop" for all intercultural questions and resources, according to Kris Acheson-Clair, Director of CILMAR.
When Acheson-Clair was hired to work for CILMAR in July 2016, she described her vision for a "virtual space all things intercultural."
It was "serendipity" that got the HubICL started, as a series of unrelated events led to its founding.
Dr. E. Daniel Hirelman, Chief Corporate and Global Partnerships Officer at Purdue, discussed Purdue's use of the popular Hub science-gateways with Dr. Michael Brzezinski, Dean of International Programs, and asked if CILMAR had the potential to use such a gateway for intercultural resources.
At the same time, Annette Benson, then an intercultural learning specialist at CILMAR, was doing her graduate work in Strategic Communication and thinking about how to promote CILMAR on a world-wide scale, beyond the gates of Purdue.
Together, Brezinski, Acheson-Clair, and Benson considered whether CILMAR could use a Hub platform for intercultural resources. Once they decided to move forward, CILMAR officially received funding to begin development of a Hub in February 2018.
As Acheson-Clair reflected, without each of these pieces falling into place, the HubICL “wouldn’t have happened.”
To get the HubICL started, CILMAR staff worked with the HUBzero programming team to understand how their needs for an intercultural platform differed from those of more STEM-focused science gateways. The programmers then translated CILMAR’s vision for the HubICL Toolbox, a new Hub feature, into code. The Toolbox is a central place to locate and share activities, media, assessment, curriculum, and other intercultural resources. The HubICL officially launched to users in November 2018.
For Acheson-Clair, the HubICL is already well on its way to fulfilling her original vision. She hopes to see the Toolbox grow more robust, and hopes to see external users contribute new tools, reviews, notes, and feedback for the Toolbox to become a community effort, like Wikipedia. She also wants to see the publication section grow, considering one day turning it into an online journal, and is interested in using a Hub Forum as a job board.
The HubICL has enabled CILMAR to take its mission around the world, and now, as Acheson-Clair explains, it “cuts across everything we’re doing. Each project generates content for the Hub or the Hub feeds content into it.”
She emphasized that the HubICL touches on every line of the CILMAR mission: intercultural development, fostering interaction, mentoring, assessment, and cutting-edge scholarship.
The future of the HubICL is “unimaginable” for Acheson-Clair, as she hopes to one day enter “intercultural learning” into Google and see the HubICL returned as the first search result. “That would mean we made it the virtual space.”