The Future of Intercultural Studies In Multicultural Societies

  • Jagdish S. Gundara
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 22)

Most of the diverse or multicultural societies have not succeeded in eliminating discrimination and inequalities within their national boundaries. Many of the educational initiatives have floundered and failed to make any significant difference to the educational outcomes of the poorer groups from diverse groups in society. The capacity of many national systems to resolve internal socio-economic differences and reduce disparities has been increasingly diminished as the powers of national governments to provide constitutional protection to their citizens has decreased. In external terms economic globalisation has in many cases eroded the powers of national public institutions and there are diminishing levels of trust in communities and increasing levels of ethnic nationalism in white Anglo-Saxon Protestant America or in an India marked by Hindu religious fundamentalism. Intercultural initiatives and citizenship and civic education in most countries draw on the received wisdom of the past. The chapter recognises these current dilemmas but will argue that it is not necessary to go forward into the future on the basis of the received wisdom of the past. For instance, in the United States it is not possible to go forward using the purely ‘formal’ institutional conception of democracy, as an expression of filial piety to America's Founding Fathers based on individualistically conceived liberty. The French Republic also needs to ensure that the public culture and institutions are inclusive of the minority and ‘other’ cultures. This is necessary to ensure that the corrosive aspects of racism and xenophobia do not undermine trust in democratic institutions and processes remain vibrant and do not stultify. This is because a purely formal democracy is culturally unsustainable, ideologically hollow and can be operationally subverted. To make democratic institutions more viable in the United States and other countries around the world a deeper conception of democracy that expresses the experience-based deeper conception of democracy is needed. Such culturally based democratic values would be inclusive of best values drawn from diverse groups at the local level and strengthen mutualities of community life which give validity to de Tocqueville's analytic concept ‘habits of the heart’ (Green, 1999, p. vi).

This chapter will examine the ways in which the national might be able to act differently within the regional, continental and international legal and institutional frameworks. It will refer to policies, especially as they pertain to educational rights and entitlements of citizens. Institutions like the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO have a major stake in these fast-changing times. The continental and regional organisations like the Organisation of African Unity and Meracuer may have similar obligations within those regions. Within the Commonwealth, the Heads of Government meeting in Kampala have addressed the issue of the transformation of societies to achieve greater political, economic and human development which can use the stronger Commonwealth networks in education to contribute to these agendas (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2007).


Teacher Education Democratic Institution Educational Inequality Educational Initiative Multicultural Society 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

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  • Jagdish S. Gundara

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