“At Wageningen UR [The Netherlands] the number of foreign students and foreign staff is ever increasing. The university is populated by a richly varied group of people from diverse cultures, which makes studying, working and living exciting but not always easy. It requires trust and respect to meet ‘the other’ and everyone’s recognition that he or she is ‘the other’ too. Dialogue is needed for a constructive process of studying, working and living in an intercultural environment and in order to benefit together from the challenges and chances diversity offers.
For that reason, the Executive Board set up the Intercultural Dialogue Team at the beginning of 2008. The group has been tasked with providing advise – solicited or unsolicited – on intercultural issues in the context of ‘internationalisation at home’. Both staff and students participate in the team. Intercultural dialogue is defined as a process that promotes an open and respectful interaction between individuals and groups from different cultural backgrounds. The Team is busy developing plans to create the conditions for intercultural dialogue and suggest solutions for problems that may occur.
The team is one of the instruments by which the Executive Board is seeking to emphasise the importance of cultural diversity in Wageningen. At the same time it provides a vehicle by which to highlight ‘good practices’ and recognise problems with cultural diversity in the workplace.
It includes representatives from all walks of university life – including students, lecturers, policy-makers and facilitators and has formulated the several priorities:
*Welcoming of foreign students and staff, cultural introduction to Europe and the Netherlands
*Education in intercultural groups
*Week of Intercultural Dialogue
*Opening a hotline during the week of Intercultural Dialogue
*Making an inventory of links between various campus initiatives”
(For more information)