Professional Development

Graduate Supervision and Mentorship across Cultures

June 05, 2015

SFU faculty and teaching staff, student service providers, and administrators are invited to a special retreat on mentoring graduate students across cultures. This session is suited to staff and faculty who work to facilitate dialogue about cultural differences in the context of graduate education, such as graduate chairs, educational developers, student service providers and graduate student mentors and others who support graduate student success at SFU. 

  • When:  Monday, June 22, 2015, Part 1: 9am-11:30am (Part 2: Optional working lunch from 12-2pm)
  • Where: Halpern Centre, Rm 126, Burnaby campus.
  • The session is free but seating is limited. Please register online to reserve your space.

Refreshments will be provided. Lunch is provided for those who stay through until 2pm. For further information, contact Carolyn Hanna at

Part 1: Building Your Facilitator Toolbox: Graduate Supervision Across Cultures (9- 11:30am)

Join us to build your facilitator toolbox and get ready for facilitating dialogue between graduate students, postdocs and supervisors as they work together to build effective international and interdisciplinary research teams. By the end of the session, participants will:

  • Work together to develop and engage with a set of case studies on graduate supervision in international and interdisciplinary research teams unique to SFU’s research and teaching culture.
  • Identify and practice strategies for facilitating dialogue about challenging cross-cultural graduate supervision conversations in workshop or learning community settings.
  • Experience the “transfer group” model for facilitating conversations about supervision in faculty or graduate student learning communities.  Originally developed by educators in Switzerland, the transfer group model is a structured framework for dissecting current supervision “dilemmas” that participants bring to the learning community.  The model is highly adaptable, and has also been used to explore issues around teaching and learning; research productivity, organizational change and professional development.  

Part 2: Facilitation Roundtable: The Behind The Scenes Look (12pm - 2pm).

Building on the morning workshop, this session will engage participants in dialogue about advanced facilitation and planning strategies for settings that involve dialogue across cultures. Participants will:

  • Debrief facilitation strategies used in the morning workshop.
  • Further explore the 9 stages of the transfer group model, and reflect on ways in which they may be able to use parts of the model in their own facilitation practice.
  • After the session, the facilitator will work with SFU staff to develop debriefing notes to accompany the case studies generated in the morning workshop – this will allow facilitators across the institution to use the case studies in future workshops, consultations or learning communities as they engage in dialogue about supervision across cultures.

This half-day retreat is being facilitated by special guest, Dr. Nanda Dimitrov (see bio below). It has been organized in partnership between the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (DGS), the Centre for English Language Learning, Teaching and Research (CELLTR), International Services for Students (ISS), and the Graduate Student Society (GSS).

About the Facilitator
Dr. Nanda Dimitrov (Ph.D. Intercultural Communication, University of Minnesota, 2004) is the Associate Director of the Teaching Support Centre at Western University, and adjunct research scholar in the Centre for Reseach on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 

Her work as an educational developer focuses on graduate education, the preparation of future faculty and mentorship across cultures. Her most recent publications have explored the development of disciplinary communication competence among graduate students and investigated the impact of international TA training programs on the teaching competence of teaching assistants. She is the author of the  Western Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students Across Cultures (2009) and she has facilitate the transitions of students and faculty from over 50 countries, and led workshops on teaching and mentorship in intercultural settings at several universities in Canada, the U.S. and Switzerland. 

See also:  Building Successful Academic Relationships Across Cultures workshop for Grad Students & Post-Docs

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