What role can tertiary language and intercultural education play in helping counteract the potential negative effects of post-secularism and of cultural essentialism?
The rise of conservative and extremist groups and increased essentialist and nationalist expressions of culture in complex multicultural secular states like Australia calls for a greater understanding of the role of national cultures and cross-cultural encounters in supranational spaces such as ours. Both extremism and cultural essentialism indicate that unexpected configurations of worldviews are now at play, potentially challenging the values of critical thinking, liberty, equality and cultural diversity embedded in democratic ideals.
In view of this new global societal and cultural landscape, this seminar considers the role that tertiary language and intercultural education can play, in terms of political and ethical engagement, in helping to counteract the potential negative effects of post-secularism and of cultural essentialism, echoing similar recent calls on this topic in the literature.
Issues such as the following will be addressed: the choice of cultural content and whether or not it should include explicit teaching about religion/other ideologies; of linguistic content, including the teaching of critical discourse analysis skills; of engagement with rather than avoidance of controversial topics in class discussion; as well as the need for real communication/Socratic dialoguing between lecturers and students. Consideration will also be given to the meaning of intercultural competence in the context of language and intercultural education from a political and ethical perspective.
- Professor Fazal Rizvi, University of Illinois, University of Melbourne
- Professor Joseph Lo Bianco, University of Melbourne
- Dr Chantal Crozet, RMIT University
- Dr Kerry Mullan, RMIT University