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HUM-20030-XF108 Culture and Context 23DA06

HUM-20030-XF108 Culture and Context 23DA06

You work for CON-voke, an organization that helps develop and run conventions, conferences, and business meetings on a variety of topics. You will help organize a charity dinner and cultural exhibition to raise money for an international nonprofit. The fundraiser will feature viewing of an artwork or cultural heritage item, with the proceeds going to charity. The dinner will focus on the country of the curated item, offering attendees the opportunity to learn more about the global culture and the influences that shaped its creation. Your supervisor has asked you to help plan the event, write an overview for the dinner, and create some brief notes on the piece to be auctioned.

Your supervisor would like the dinner to be a culturally relevant and accessible event. You should treat it as a social artifact; it should be a business dinner that is reflective of cultural expectations for the curated item’s country of origin, and it should offer attendees the opportunity to learn more about the culture and its historical influences.



First, you should select a location for your dinner. Use the World Business Cultures: A Handbook textbook and other resources located in the Supporting Materials section as a starting point for researching a culture. However, you will need to do more research on the culture as you develop your event. Use the Shapiro Library to find more information about the culture’s conceptions of what to expect at a business dinner, its social customs, and any business etiquette particular to the culture.

Waitstaff can serve guests food and drinks, but this may not be appropriate for all types of events.


Now that you have found a host country, you will need to select an artwork to feature for the cultural exhibition. You may also choose to use a relevant cultural artifact or product. Use the ARTSTOR and Grove Art Online databases to find an appropriate item. You can filter your choices by country and learn more about the piece you’ve chosen. ARTSTOR has a large selection of cultural artifacts, along with descriptions and histories. Grove Art Online provides detailed biographies of artists, and articles on art movements and styles from various countries. Reach out to a librarian in the Shapiro Library if you need assistance navigating the databases.


Your supervisor wants a business brief, approximately 1,500 words in length, that will detail what to expect for the dinner. Your brief should explain the cultural significance of the various aspects of the event, and also how to prepare guests for any particular customs. In particular, you should seek to answer these questions:

How does this country approach the idea of a formal dinner?

What cultural influences have determined how people in this country act in a professional setting?

Are there any customs or traditions to be aware of?

Are there certain expectations to the format of a professional dinner?

Are there any cultural events like dance or theater, or certain foods and drinks, that are expected at such a dinner? Why?

What aspects of a business dinner reflect cultural meaning?

Are there certain expectations that originate in cultural values?

Has traditional professional etiquette in this country changed in reaction to new global influences?

What stands out as the most different from your own culture? The most similar?

What potential problems can you prepare guests to encounter at this dinner?

What subjects of conversation are expected? What sorts of subjects are taboo? Is there an expected way that conversation should proceed?

Is there anything that guests should avoid doing, so as not to offend?


Your supervisor will be presenting at the dinner on the artwork or cultural item, and he would like you to fill out the Cultural Item Description document in the Deliverables section—this is the informational sheet that he will use to prepare. He has created this short document to collect information about the provenance of the artifact, its historical and cultural influences, and its interpretation. Use the information you find on ARTSTOR and the Grove Art Online databases. You can also research the subject in the Shapiro Library, if you need more information.

What to Submit

Every project has a deliverable or deliverables, which are the files that must be submitted before your project can be assessed. For this project, you must submit the following:

Business Brief
Write a 1,500 word business brief for your supervisor explaining the cultural and historical context of a formal business dinner in your selected culture. It should include a description of the event and any cultural considerations relevant to understanding the format and customs.

Cultural Item Description
Fill out this informational sheet, which should include a description and the provenance of the featured artifact, its historical and cultural influences, and other pertinent details.

Supporting Materials

The following resource(s) may help support your work on the project:

Citation Help
Need help citing your sources? Use the CfA Citation Guide and Citation Maker.

Reading: World Business Cultures: A Handbook
Use this Shapiro Library e-book, especially Chapter 7, for ideas about ways that cultures may differ, and the best ways to be inclusive.

Reading: Chinese Business Dinners Are Based on Tradition
This in-depth Shapiro Library article explains the nuances of a traditional Chinese business banquet.

Reading: Business Etiquette in Poland, Germany, France and China: An Intercultural Approach
This Shapiro Library article offers an overview of business etiquette in Poland, Germany, France, and China provides a good contrast of the different rituals for formal interaction across the world.

Reading: Cultural Overviews of Business Etiquette
Read the following Shapiro Library articles to see some examples of specific cultural behaviors from selected cultures. These overviews can give you some ideas about the types of differences to look for when researching your event.

The Asian Way

The Down Under Way

How They Do It in . . . Japan

Reading: Business Etiquette Abroad Avoiding Costly Faux Pas
This Shapiro Library article from 1968, while dated, shows that intercultural questions and concerns around professional meetings have existed for a long time. The considerations raised here are still relevant today.

Shapiro Library Database: ARTSTOR
You may use this Shapiro Library database to locate an artifact for the fundraiser. You can use the filters when browsing to locate an artifact from the culture you will be examining. Go to Browse, then Artstor Collections, then filter by Geography to locate works from a specific country.
For research assistance, contact the Shapiro librarians on the library homepage.

Shapiro Library Database: Grove Art Online
This Shapiro Library database has a series of articles and entries on artists, artworks, and art styles from around the world. You can use this database to learn more about the artifacts and objects from a given culture to help inform your description. Select the Region menu to browse works by country.
For research assistance, contact the Shapiro librarians on the library homepage.

Requirements: answer description

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