Teaching Interculturality in Higher Education (Online Event)

EventsFurther thoughts on teaching interculturality in higher education during and after the COVID-19 crisis4 September 2020.

Following a very successful and stimulating event in July 2020, this new webinar represents another contribution to reflecting on current issues in the teaching of interculturality in higher education, especially in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. New speakers were invited to share their views and reflections for this session (Australia, China, Finland, The Netherlands). Organised by Fred Dervin (University of Helsinki, Finland), Andreas Jacobsson (Karlstad University, Sweden) and Mei Yuan (Minzu University of China)

Interculturality is taught in institutions of higher education around the world under different guises (intercultural communication, intercultural encounters, global competence, etc.) and in different fields (language, teacher education, health care, business, etc.). The accelerated internationalization that these institutions have experienced for the last decades has also contributed to the popularity of courses around the notion of interculturality. What scholars note about such courses is that the ideologies, theoretical frameworks and methods used for teaching interculturality are many and varied. Furthermore, those who teach interculturality are not always specialists and they can struggle with different kinds of perspectives, paradigms, ideologies, methods…

Many argue that the COVID-19 crisis will have an influence on our lives for the years/decades (?) to come. As far as interculturality is concerned, the crisis has led to very violent acts of xenophobia, Sinophobia, blatant nationalism but also aggressive (systemic) racism and discrimination. At the same time, some of these have been counterbalanced a little by people standing up against them.

Will these have an influence on the way we see interculturality from a higher education perspective, especially on what we teach, from what perspective(s) and how? Is it time for (real) change, beyond the polarization of culturalist/essentialist and postmodern ideologies, in intercultural communication education?

Impossible interculturality by Robert Aman

Book announcement:

Aman, Robert. (2014). Impossible Interculturality? Education and the Colonial Difference in a Multicultural World. Linköping, Sweden: Linköping University Electronic Press.

Abstract: An increasing number of educational policies, academic studies, and university courses today propagate ‘interculturality’ as a method for approaching ‘the Other’ and reconciling universal values and cultural specificities. Based on a thorough discussion of Europe’s colonial past and the hierarchies of knowledge that colonialism established, this dissertation interrogates the definitions of intercultural knowledge put forth by EU policy discourse, academic textbooks on interculturality, and students who have completed a university course on the subject. Taking a decolonial approach that makes its central concern the ways in which differences are formed and sustained through references to cultural identities, this study shows that interculturality, as defined in these texts, runs the risk of affirming a singular European outlook on the world, and of elevating this outlook into a universal law. Contrary to its selfproclaimed goal of learning from the Other, interculturality may in fact contribute to the repression of the Other by silencing those who are already muted. The dissertation suggests an alternative definition of interculturality, which is not framed in terms of cultural differences but in terms of colonial difference. This argument is substantiated by an analysis of the Latin American concept of interculturalidad, which derives from the struggles for public and political recognition among indigenous social movements in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. By bringing interculturalidad into the picture, with its roots in the particular and with strong reverberations of the historical experience of colonialism, this study explores the possibility of decentring the discourse of interculturality and its Eurocentric outlook. In this way, the dissertation argues that an emancipation from colonial legacies requires that we start seeing interculturality as inter-epistemic rather than simply inter-cultural.