David Hoopes: A fond remembrance

Sandy Fowler (with comments by distinguished members of the IC field)

The intercultural field has lost an important pioneer: David S. Hoopes, whoenvisioned the field of intercultural relations before it even existed, published its first books, and signaled the founding of our profession.David was born on July 28, 1928, in Washington, D.C. where he grew up and later attended the University of Utah for one year. He completed his undergraduate degree at George Washington University and earned his master’s degree in American History from Harvard University, where he met his wife Kathleen (Kay) Rogers. David and Kay were married in 1952 in White River Junction and lived for a time in Boston while David served in the Army in counterintelligence. After his honorable discharge, they spent seven months in Europe and then settled in Vershire, VT. Eventually, they moved to Pittsburgh, Pa. and continued to spend their summers in Vershire before moving there full time in 1977. David was passionate about intercultural communication and cross-cultural relations. David among others were the pioneering founders of the intercultural communication field.

According to the Valley News (January 18, 2014), “David’s true love was writing. He wrote poetry, including many love poems to his wife; a book about his grandfather, Rudger Clawson, an apostle of the Mormon Church; and a novel about the life of Huckleberry Finn, from Huck’s perspective. David loved being at his home in Vershire where he and Kay spent many hours gardening and landscaping. He also enjoyed riding on his tractor and throwing wood into the cellar for those cold Vermont days… He was a loving father and a doting grandfather who always had time to stop and talk and share his wisdom and advice to anyone lucky enough to be listening.”

Although he did not participate in the October 1968 conference in Estes Park Colorado,David was selected to become SIETAR’s first director where he directed a U.S. State Department project to develop cross-cultural training guidelines. Albert Wight, another pioneer, described how SIETAR was formed. “SITAR (later SIETAR) grew out of extensive work in the development of cross-cultural training for the U.S. Peace Corps in the 1960s.  At a workshop in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1968, to review the cross-cultural training guidelines being developed for the Peace Corps, Steve Rhinesmith suggested that we form a professional society for intercultural training and research to carry on and expand the work we were doing. The participants agreed to function as a steering committee and I agreed to take on the role of acting executive director while formulating a more definitive statement of purpose and objectives, developing criteria for membership, exploring possibilities for funding, identifying potential members, and expanding the mailing list. We also began the search for a home for SITAR and, in 1971, settled on the University of Pittsburgh, where Dave Hoopes was heading up a project funded by the U.S. State Department. I passed the reins to him, and he continued the work we had begun, with an official organizing conference in 1974. We couldn’t have selected a more devoted or conscientious person to continue the development of SIETAR, which now has chapters in many different countries. 

David and his assistant Toby Frank began the work of forming a professional association and soon recognized that SIETAR needed a more permanent home and that it should be in the association hub; Washington, DC. He finalized arrangements for Georgetown University to house SIETAR where it remained for almost 3 decades.

Along with Margaret (Peggy) Pusch and George Renwick, David founded the Intercultural Press in the 1970s. He and Paul Ventura edited The Intercultural Sourcebook (1979) as part of the State-of-the-Art Study conducted by SIETAR and directed by David during his tenure as Executive Secretary of the Society. At the time, The Intercultural Sourcebook was the only book available that surveyed the variety of instructional methods used by professional cross-cultural educators and trainers. By providing analysis and/or descriptions of each method, along with examples that could be used as they are or adapted to particular situations, the Sourcebook served as both a handbook for the instructor and as a guide to the field. Comparing the first and second editions of the Sourcebook reveals the growth of the intercultural field.

When I was exploring the idea of updating the Sourcebook I realized that I needed to talk with David and found that he was enthusiastic about the project. David wrote in the Preface to Volume 1: “It was fifteen years ago, in 1979, that the first edition of the Intercultural Sourcebook was published. It was a slight volume, though for the field it was a major event. For the first time, persons concerned with intercultural education and training were able to survey the range of training methods available and get a full sense of the breadth of the field…Perhaps most significant, the book furthered the search for methods more precisely suited to the special and complex needs of cross-cultural training. There were two particularly important dimensions to this search. First, the focus of the training as it affected the trainee had to be more clearly defined. A distinction had to be made between cultural and personality, with the former identified as the proper domain of cross-cultural training—and the latter left to qualified psycho-therapists. Second, a more effective means of integrating cognitive and experiential learning had to be found…Over the years the integration of culture, cognition, and experience in cross-cultural training has been achieved and is reflected in virtually every page of this new edition of the Intercultural Sourcebook.”

Always interested in the big picture, David was responsible for a number of books such as theOverview of Intercultural Education, Training and Research (1978). In the early days of the intercultural field, it was possible to know everyone who did research or wrote about intercultural communication/relations and David indeed knew them all. He was very persuasive when he sensed a book that would contribute to the field. He succeeded in publishing the work of many authors like Ned Seelye, Craig Storti, and Paul Pederson. He was also responsible for publishing Robert Kohls’ Survival Kit which was a best-seller for many years.

David was partial to the developmental concepts that circulated at the time. In his article Intercultural Experience as a Process (1993) Pirjo Rasi of the University of Tampere, presents David’s approach to the developmental path for identifying cultural patterns or stages in the journey to multiculturalism. “Hoopes argues that intercultural learning can be seen to take place along a continuum which runs from ethnocentrism to some ethnorelative form of adaptation or integration (ethnocentrism>awareness>understanding>acceptance/respect>appreciation/valuing>selective adoption>assimilation>adaptation-biculturalism-multiculturalism). David saw the intercultural experience as a trigger that acts to broaden an individual’s world view as well as view of self. Interculturalists, many of them the old timers who knew David well have praised his contributions to the intercultural field:

George Renwick: “Forty years ago, David recognized the need for a new field, Intercultural Communication. He set about to build, in his words, ‘a core support system for professionals in this field.’ He succeeded. His compelling vision and sincere enthusiasm engaged and encouraged hundreds of us in several countries. His collaborative approach connected us for the first time with one another. His writing and editing skills provided for us a wide range of unique, useful materials. David's extraordinary commitment kept him contributing to individuals and organizations in this field for thousands of hours over many years. All of us in SIETAR-USA today owe great gratitude to David.”

Stephen Rhinesmith: “I have a very personal memory of David. In September, 1965, my wife, Kathe and I moved as newlyweds to Pittsburgh for me to attend the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs of the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly after we arrived, we found that the Pittsburgh Regional Council for International Education was in the same building and that its director was David Hoopes. Kathe was looking for a job and became his assistant. This was the beginning of a long relationship for us with David.  He and I, with assistance from Cliff Clarke at Cornell, began running some of the first Intercultural Communications Workshops in Pittsburgh. I left Pittsburgh in 1969 and in 1972 became President of AFS International Exchanges. When Al Wight was looking for a home for SIETAR after the Estes Park Meeting we had had earlier, David and I had a conversation about who could pick it up and David suggested I take it on at AFS.  I told him I felt strongly that he should take it at the Regional Council in light of the work we had been doing before I left. He agreed – and the rest is history. A wonderful man – thoughtful partner – and visionary for the field Intercultural Communications. We all have benefited greatly from his intellect, passion and commitment. Thanks, David – for everything.” 

The following comments are personal communications from the International Academy of Intercultural Research listserv 2/8-9.

Janet Bennett: “The loss of David Hoopes is a quiet and profound one for those of us qualified as old-timers, or more graciously, as pioneers. I can only marvel at someone who looks at a slate as blank as the intercultural one was in the sixties, and looks at the need as deeply obvious, and in the face of a country at war, thinks of starting an Intercultural Network, an Intercultural Press, and an intercultural professional association. We keep his books in a special corner of the ICI library, labeled "Classics," which is where his memory belongs as well. I hope I am joined by others who explain this loss on social media, so the next generations can recognize the contribution of this inimitable pioneer.”

Robert Moran: “My first meeting with David was in 1972 or 1973 in Washington. A small grant was received from the Dept. of Education or NAFSA to bring a small group of people together to explore the new field of "intercultural communication." I recall there were about 8 people in the room for a several day meeting including David Hoopes, Cliff Clarke, George Renwick, Toby Frank, Jean AbiNader and 2 or 3 others. I was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Cliff was the foreign student advisor at Cornell and we were ALL young and most at the early stages of our professional careers.

I have two very clear recollections of David, one is professional the other is personal. I don't remember his exact words but his advice to me was crystal clear. He told me to focus on the application and relevance of any theory on communication or intercultural communication to the real world of the students, travelers or business people I am attempting to influence. That stuck. My second recollection is equally strong and very personal. I always believed and experienced David as a ‘good guy.’ David, thanks for sharing your gifts.”

Daniel Kealey: “I joined SIETAR in the mid 1970's and soon after I met and came to know and admire David Hoopes.  As Cliff mentioned, David played such an important role in his desire to see the intercultural field produce knowledge and identify skills needed for achieving success in an another culture.  And he had a passion for promoting ways to disseminate and share information and ideas which led him to found the Intercultural Press.  Like many others, I too lost touch with David over the years.  I find it hard to believe that it is almost 40 years ago that my own career in the intercultural field began.  I owe a lot to David and many others, including yourselves who have written comments below.  May our field always endeavor to produce solid research which can inform practice and enable our practice as interculturalists to inform research.”

Milton Bennett: “I'd like to put my voice into the remembrance of David Hoopes. He was an important founder of the intercultural field, and, from my theoretical point of view, an early recognizer of the developmental nature of our work. For those who are compiling histories with reference to David, you may find my description of the early days of the Intercultural Communication Workshop (ICW), the Intercultural Communication Network, and Communique useful: Bennett, M. (2010). A short conceptual history of intercultural learning in study abroad. In W. Hoffa & S. Depaul (Eds) A history of U.S. study abroad: 1965-present. Special publication of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, pp. 419-449.”

Juliana Roth: “Let me add to the touching letters that I owe David Hoopes a lot. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but his publications were of great help for me in the years when the intercultural field was established in Germany. For me as one of the first persons to develop academic curricula for intercultural communication in Germany the accomplishments of the US American colleagues were of utmost importance. I was grateful to be able to work with the files of David Hoopes in the archives of the ICI in Portland in 1995 (Janet and Milton, thank you for the chance you gave me!). Working with his texts gave me invaluable insights.”

Dan Landis:Without David the International Academy for Intercultural Research would not exist.  This is because without his early support and encouragement, IJIR would not have been born.  Let me explain.  It was back, if I recall correctly, in 1975 that Harry Triandis  suggested that David would be a good person to get to know.  At the time I had an Army contract to develop a training approach to teach junior grade officers how to interact with minority enlisted personnel.  Harry had been one of those attending the Colorado meeting and in 75 the Gaithersburg meeting that lead to the first SIETAR conference in 76 in Montebello, Canada.  Triandis’ Culture Assimilator was the method I had chosen to develop, but in the process I found a number of IC documents with David’s name all over them.  I called David and in our conversations we came to the conclusion that the field needed a publication outlet that would not only be a member benefit to the embryonic SIETAR but would also serve as a respectable place for IC scholars to disseminate their research.  With David’s help and my own contacts, I set about forming a distinguished editorial board and issuing a call for papers.  By the Chicago meeting of SIETAR in 1977, the first issue was in galleys and it became the official journal for that organization.  Without David, none of this could have occurred. 

Fast forward to 1996/97, it became apparent that the fit between the IJIR goal of a publication that would be respected among the academics in our profession was increasingly at odds with some of the people in SIETAR whose interest was less in building a theoretical and verifiable structure  and more in developing and selling some training technique or other to the field. To be sure, this was not true of the majority of SIETAR members, but the minority made enough noise that a split become inevitable. The SIETAR conferences became, as Richard Brislin lamented, a place where master’s students increasingly approached the senior scholars for a project they could use to obtain their degree. By 1983, many academics had begun to leave SIETAR seeking a place where they could interact with likeminded scholars, share ideas, and even develop new research projects. This trend accelerated and it was against this background that IJIR separated from SIETAR and moved to the newly formed International Academy for Intercultural Research in 1997. So, although David was not directly involved in the formation of the Academy, his support and fathering of IJIR, made the Academy possible.  For his prescient vision, we all owe him a vote of thanks. Jenny Mahon has suggested that David be awarded a posthumous lifetime achievement award.  I heartily agree!!!!!