In this 36 week course, students will create and publish a Cultural Influence Plan based on the factors of social influence developed by U.S. Army Psychological Operations forces over the last half a century, as well as Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, as well as various modern influence theorists. They will submit this document for publication in a professional scholarly journal. They will then find an American company that attempts to market to their chosen culture, and they will determine that company’s worst-selling product. They will then develop a marketing plan for that company’s product to that culture, based on their Cultural Influence Plan, and submit it to the marketing director for that company.
“To the Jews, I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews;…to the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I might by all means save some.” — I Corinthians 9:20a, 22
Where Did the Idea Come From?
This course has been a professional obsession of mine for over 15 years!
It started when I started working in U.S. Army Special Operations (Psychological Operations).
Military leaders and civilian leaders alike would talk about “intelligence support to win the information war” or some such.
What they really wanted was the ability to get people from cultures other than our own to do things that we wanted them to do without having to kill them to get them to do it!
So I sat down and came up with a plan for how to do that. I came up with a process. I came up with a list of requirements. I came up with an organizational design for how one would do this professionally.
The problem was that, even though there was a (seemingly) never-ending stream of people and companies coming through either begging for money or offering what someone had paid them a truckload of money to develop, none of them ever answered the decision makers’ question. Meanwhile, I continued to try to get people to let me do it for them for free, but they were not interested in what I had to say.
I finally concluded that I was not charging enough. So I retired.
All this to say: there are a lot of people in the U.S. government that were more than happy to pay millions of dollars for someone to solve this problem for them, so go and get some of that money!
That brings me to the real reason that I chose to build this course (other than my personal obsession): I looked for someone, anyone, who had published anything like this, and I couldn’t find anything!! All I found was people claiming to do influence, but mostly by gut feel or committee consensus, rather than by scientific rigor.
So I decided to buck that trend, teach the next generation how to do it on purpose, and watch the attitude toward the practice of cultural influence start to change.
Here’s to Geography, Culture, and Influence!
What Adult Accomplishments Does This Course Coach?
- Scholarly Cultural Influence Study submitted for publication in a professional scholarly journal
- A working mathematical model, modeling the influence process for their chosen culture
- An international marketing plan, sent to the marketing director of an American company who sells to the student’s target culture, promoting that company’s worst selling product, based on the student’s understanding of the cultural influence of that culture
What Transferable Skills Does This Course Train?
- Working knowledge of the scholarly publication process for professional journals
- Working knowledge of mathematical modeling
- Marketing planning
- Ability to analyze other cultures in such a way as to know how to influence behavior
- Ability to write a cover letter, selling your skills and contributions
- Intimate knowledge of at least one other culture in the world, and how to achieve change in that culture
What Careers Does This Course Give Me a Leg Up On?
- International Marketing Manager – Average Salary: $80,673 (https://www.glassdoor.com)
- International Business Manager – Average Salary: $75,353 (https://www.glassdoor.com)
- Military/Government Overseas Contractor – Average Salary: $93,961 (https://woman.thenest.com)
- Diplomat – Average Salary: $101,333 (https://www.glassdoor.com)
- Applied Sociology Professor – Average Salary: $71,840 (https://www.careeronestop.org)
- Missionary – Average Salary: $33,829 (https://www.indeed.com)
- Military Officer – Average Salary: $94,761 (https://www.glassdoor.com)
Why “0 Minutes”?
In talking with a number of homeschool families (and remembering my own childhood), I realized something important: families are busy! If I schedule a course to meet on Tuesdays at 9:30, then any family that has something else at that time cannot take part, and I didn’t want that. On the flip side, we have all done various self-paced, self-improvement hobbies that did not end up doing any good because there was no accountability (New Years’ Resolutions, anyone?) I decided to get the best of both worlds: Weekly accountability with daily flexibility.
The students will have assignments that they must accomplish each week. They will also interact with me and with their classmates in chat type interactions. This keeps them on schedule to actually complete the amazing accomplishments that this course coaches them through. But they have the freedom, within the week, to choose when they are going to work on the assignments. I have tried to provide enough instruction to enable the students to do the tasks that they have been assigned, but I also understand that sometimes, there needs to be some more direct instruction to clear up misunderstandings.
To accommodate this need, it will be possible to schedule “office hours” on an “as needed” basis where I would have a live conversation with one or more students. There will be some expectations of the student when they are asking for “office hours.” I will give them questions to answer in order to make sure that I understand what their question is and can best prepare to make that time as efficient and effective as possible. Office hours will be scheduled based on mutual scheduling needs and availability, and if there seems to be a topic that everyone is having problems with, I will either schedule a class session to clear it up, or I will provide additional instructional materials.
I am committed to your student’s success. But rather than limit your family’s ability to take part in the course, I prefer to give your family the flexibility to have your child work on their schedule, as long as they are getting their work done by the Friday deadline each week.
How Would I Write This Course Up On a High School Transcript?
- As an Applied Sociology credit, given the in-depth study of cultures that the students must make in order to write their Cultural Influence Study
- As an Applied Social Psychology credit, given the study of social influence factors that the students will undergo in having to write their Cultural Influence Study and their international marketing plan
- As a Human Geography credit, given the students having to understand how their target culture is affected by its neighbors and the rest of the world
- As an Applied Mathematics credit, given that the students will have to develop, test, refine, and make accessible, a mathematical model of the cultural influence process for their target culture
- As an English Composition credit, given the level of writing and the volume of writing that the students will have to do in preparing their Cultural Influence Study and their international marketing plan