Cultural Intelligence (CQ) competencies

Cultural Intelligence (also known as CQ) is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts. These include national, ethnic, generational and organizational contexts, as well as various diversity groups.

Many UVic courses that offer intercultural training as part of the curriculum.

UVic Co-op and Career uses the Cultural Intelligence Centre’s CQ framework, which is rooted in decades of academic research. These replace UVic's previous "intercultural competencies". CQ is a competency that can be used while abroad (during an international experience) or while working within your own country (in any workplace). While there are many other tools that are used in the intercultural space, UVic Co-op & Career has selected the CQ model because it is a developmental tool that helps individuals enhance their intercultural competencies. Co-op and Career staff have conducted many research projects related to the development of CQ.

CQ has 4 capabilities which we refer to as the 4 CQ competencies. These are:

CQ Drive

CQ Drive means that you have interest and confidence in functioning effectively in culturally diverse settings.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • are curious about new surroundings and cultures
  • actively seek out learning opportunities within diverse cultural contexts
  • welcome the opportunity to learn more about the geography and culture of where you live, work and study
  • take initiative to explore your environment
  • actively network with people from different cultures
  • take interest in current events locally and globally
  • engage with people in your employer organization and community
  • network with diverse communities and organizations
  • recognize your intercultural capabilities and seek areas to improve

CQ Knowledge

CQ Knowledge means that you have a good understanding of how cultures are similar or different.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • recognize and respect cultural diversity
  • learn appropriate, effective ways to communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • have knowledge of cultural values and business systems
  • know how to be diplomatic and sensitive to the dynamics of a culturally diverse workplace
  • understand how to communicate with people who speak or write a different language
  • know how to be adept in a new environment
  • understand ways to cope with constant change
  • learn phrases in a new language, or learn a new language

CQ Strategy

CQ Strategy means that you use your knowledge and understanding of different cultures to plan effective intercultural interactions.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • are conscious of your assumptions relating to cultural issues and question them at all times
  • think about how you can take initiative to learn from co-workers from different cultural backgrounds
  • plan how to pursue networking opportunities with people with culturally diverse backgrounds
  • consider new strategies during each cultural encounter
  • check for opportunities for cultural growth
  • consider how your area of study is applicable in a global context

CQ Action

CQ Action means that you demonstrate flexibility in your interactions and are able to recognize and adapt to cultural nuances in the workplace and beyond.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • display a positive attitude towards change and new environments
  • recognize and adapt to cultural differences in communication
  • change your verbal and nonverbal behaviours according to different situations
  • demonstrate that you can acknowledge the human, interpersonal and technical sides of a problem
  • show flexibility and explore possible solutions in an innovative and creative way

Put these in action: See understanding and using competencies to learn how to use, measure and describe your competencies.

Curriculum to help develop your CQ competencies

We’ve developed a curriculum to help you connect effectively with people from diverse cultures, experiences and communities. 

  1. Embrace Diversity – Developing your Cultural Intelligence: This curriculum introduces students to culture and cultural values and cultural intelligence. It is included in the Introduction to Professional Practice (IPP) course that all students complete before their first work term.

  2. Take Flight with Co-op – Preparing for Your Work Term Abroad: Designed for students embarking on an international work term and delivered online. You'll read about the country you are going to, anticipate cultural challenges you may encounter and learn how to plan for success in that cultural context. 

  3. Drive to CQ Effectiveness: For students returning from international experiences. You'll discuss cultural challenges you encountered, the cultural values inherent in these challenges, how you used your CQ competencies to navigate these challenges, and how to articulate the CQ competencies you gained when searching for jobs in future. 

  4. Succeeding in your Canadian Job Search: For students from international pathways. International students in Canada may be used to different job search strategies and workplace culture than those common in Canada. This curriculum covers these differences, and how to use your CQ competencies to succeed in your Canadian job search and in Canadian workplaces.

If you are not in the co-op program and would like to access any of these lessons, please contact .


Are you student from an international pathway?

See our online resources for how to succeed in the Canadian workplace!