Interculturalism, Multiculturalism and International-Mindedness: What's the Difference and Why do They Matter?

Speaker: Maria Savva
Institution: UCL, Institute of Education/Doctoral School, Cyprus

This session examines three often ambiguous terms circulating in the field of education: interculturalism, multiculturalism and international-mindedness. Whilst some scholars and practitioners have used these terms interchangeably, others have described distinct and important differences between them. Gaining a solid understanding of these terms is important because they are often found at the core of school mission statements and considered integral organizational values. Yet their meaning is not always understood in the same way by all stakeholders. This becomes problematic when we consider that communicating a clear and consistent vision is fundamental to effective leadership.

Participants in this session will examine perceived differences and similarities between these concepts by briefly looking at the historical and regional beginnings of each term. They will also examine where each term stands today within the context of North American, European and international settings. This will include a look at balancing what many perceive to be a competing discourse between humanistic goals and market-driven goals: are these concepts about making the world a better place or are they about preparing for a globally competitive work place?

Besides gaining insight into the ‘bigger picture’ participants will also situate their own personal and professional perspectives within the spectrum of this new understanding. This will involve working in small groups and engaging in active debate. Participants will walk away from this session equipped with the knowledge and confidence needed to ground their school vision in a secure understanding of these frequently used, but often misunderstood, terms.

*The material to be presented is drawn from research sponsored by the European Council of International Schools in partnership with the UCL, Institute of Education in London.

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