Cultural exchange and internationalization have grown hugely in significance within higher education in the last few years. In the broadest sense, this agenda is about preparing students for living in and contributing to an increasingly connected global society. At a time when the political and social trend seems to be towards exclusionism, exposing students to a vibrant blend of ideas, opinions and experiences within the stimulating yet safe space of university resonates all the more strongly. Historically, however, it has been difficult to encourage students to participate fully, particularly with regard to student mobility and studying abroad. Socio-economic and cultural factors play an important role here. Abertay and DePaul are both committed to widening participation and have a high proportion of first-generation students from the lowest socio-economic groups. Consequently, less than five percent of students at DePaul study abroad, and Scotland has one of the lowest student mobility rates in Europe, thus limiting opportunities for students to situate their learning within a global context. Recent developments in digital communications and platform sharing technologies have allowed universities to explore online collaboration and virtual exchange, but that raises new challenges. In particular, how do you embed a sense of genuine cultural exchange between students who are geographically remote and still enmeshed in their local culture? This paper explores one response to the problem, using a collaborative sound design project to build a strong sense of cultural exchange between students located at two universities, Abertay University in Scotland and DePaul in the USA.
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