Dr. Young Yun Kim is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. She was born and raised in Seoul, Korea, where she received her B.A. degree from Seoul National University. In 1970, she moved to the United States and completed her M.A. degree in speech communication at the University of Hawaii under the sponsorship of the East-West Center Communication Institute. She continued her studies and completed a Ph.D. degree in communication from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Upon graduation, Prof. Kim taught at Governors State University in Illinois before moving to the University of Oklahoma in 1988, where she has helped to develop a nationally recognized Intercultural Communication graduate programs. Prof. Kim teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and direct doctoral theses in the area of intercultural/interethnic/interracial communication.
Prof. Kim has published over 110 book chapters and refereed articles in academic journals including Communication Yearbook, Human Communication Research, and International Journal of Intercultural Relations. As author or editor, she has produced 12 intercultural books including Interethnic Communication (Sage, 1986), Theories in Intercultural Communication (co-edited with W. Gudykunst, Sage, 1988) Communication and Cross-Cultural Adaptation (Multilingual Matters, 1988), Becoming Intercultural (Sage, 2001), and Communicating with Strangers (4th ed., McGraw-Hill, 2003, with W. Gudykunst). She has served on the editorial boards of 11 journals including Applied Communication Research, Communication Theory, Human Communication Research, International and Intercultural Communication Annual, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Journal of Communication, and Journal of Intercultural Communication Research.
Prof. Kim was named a Fellow of the International Communication Association in 2002, and received in 2006 a Top Scholar Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Intercultural Communication Division of the International Communication Association. She has played leadership roles as Division Chair and on the Board of Directors of the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association. She is also a founding fellow and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Academy for Intercultural Research, and was elected to serve as the Academy’s Vice President (2011-13), President (2013-15), and Past-President (2015-17).
Prof. Kim has organized many thematic symposia and panels, and has presented over 150 competitively selected and invited papers at national and international academic conferences, with 14 of them receiving “top-paper” awards. She has been invited to give keynote speeches at a number of international conferences including the International Conference of Language and Social Psychology (2007), Shanghai Intercultural Communication Conference (2010), and the Conference of the International Academy of Intercultural Relations (2011, 2013, 2015). In addition, she has given colloquia, seminars, and public lectures at various universities and organizations in the United States including the most recent presentations at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO (2011) and in the Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2012).
Prof. Kim began a scientific investigation of cross-cultural adaptation of individuals from a communication perspective for her doctoral thesis. Drawn to this inquiry prompted by a keen personal interest in understanding the adaptive struggles and successes that she and those around her were experiencing, her doctoral thesis addressed these issues through a survey among Korean immigrants in the Chicago area. She has since conducted original studies among other immigrants, refugees, and ethnic minorities in the United States, including Japanese, Mexicans, and Southeast Asians, as well as American Indians. Her two-year study of Indochinese refugees (1978-1980) in Illinois was sponsored by the then US Department of Health and Human Services. Prof. Kim also has directed, and collaborated in publications, with a number of doctoral theses investigating cross-cultural adaptation in several different cultural contexts. Among them are a study of adaptation patterns of Malaysian students in the United States (with Ezhar Tamam), Western and non-Western international university students in Japan (with Masazumi Maruyama), Turkish employees of an American military organization in Germany (with Vicki Braun), Korean business expatriates in the United States and their American counterparts in South Korea (with Yang Soo Kim), and high school students of Hispanic backgrounds in the United States (with Kelly McKay-Semmler).
These and related research works have provided empirical grounding for Prof. Kim’s comprehensive, general theory of cross-cultural adaptation. The first full articulation of her theory was presented in her book, Communication and Cross-Cultural Adaptation: An Integrative Theory (1988). Prof. Kim further refined and elaborated on this theory in her more recent book, Becoming Intercultural: An Integrative Theory of Communication and Cross-Cultural Adaptation (2001). Built on the premise that an individual’s ability to communicate in accordance to the norms and practices of the local culture lies at the very heart of successful adaptation, Prof. Kim describes cross-cultural adaptation as a process of dynamic unfolding of the natural human tendency to struggle for an internal equilibrium in the face of often adversarial environmental conditions. She argues that, in the project of cross-cultural adaptation, we are also embarking on a path of personal development, in which we stretch ourselves out of the familiar and reach for a deepened and more inclusive understanding of human conditions, including our own.
More recently, Professor Kim has broadened her research domain to include issues of ethnicity/race, ethnic identity, and interethnic communication. She has carried out an original research program examining various psychological, situational, and macro-environmental factors and their relationships to associative and dissociative behaviors of individuals when dealing with ethnically dissimilar others at the grassroots level. In 2005, she published a formal theory entitled, “Association and dissociation: A contextual theory of interethnic communication” in Theorizing about Intercultural Communication (ed. by W. Gudykunst). She is currently working on a book manuscript in which this theory is fully explicated, elaborated, and illustrated.
Prof. Kim’s enduring interest in her two research domains, cross-cultural adaptation and interethnic communication, is a natural outgrowth of her own personal evolution over the past four decades—from a newcomer to American society striving for excellence in her intellectual pursuits, to an insider seeking to make a difference in the continuing national endeavor to reach for “a more perfect union.”
Updated: June, 2015
Young Yun Kim, Ph.D., Professor
President, International Academy for Intercultural Research
Fellow, International Association of Communication
Department of Communication
University of Oklahoma
610 Elm Avenue, Room 132
Norman, OK 73019