{ONLINE SUMMER COURSE 2021} Unthinking and rethinking intercultural dialogue in education 21-25 June 2021


Unthinking and rethinking intercultural dialogue in education

21-25 June 2021


Co-organised by The Faculty of Educational Sciences (University of Helsinki, Finland) and The School of Education (Minzu University of China)


Course organisers and lecturers: Prof. Fred Dervin (University of Helsinki, Finland) and Prof. Mei Yuan (Minzu University of China) + invited speakers



The course will take place online through Zoom, 2 hours per day (time: 2-4pm Beijing time)

Duration: 5 days

Assessment: Active participation and final essay

Participation fee: EUR200




The rationale of this course is based on the repeated observation by both Western and non-Western scholars that discussions around intercultural dialogue in world education remains centered on concepts, methods and theories developed in the ‘West’ (Andreotti et al., 2020). In their previous work Dervin et al. (2020) argue that this lack of diversity can limit the spheres of intellectual engagement with intercultural dialogue and exclude certain scholarly voices that could help unthink and rethink it. This also represents a contradiction since intercultural dialogue should entail interculturality of theories, concepts and methods. The current COVID-19 crisis has shown that dealing with global dialogue, but also well-being, safety and sustainability, requires listening to all the voices that can contribute to such endeavours. This means being able to understand, problematize and analyse the world from different standpoints, while negotiating similarities.


The course contributes to this vital objective for the present and especially the future, by proposing to unthink and rethink intercultural dialogue by both taking stock of current achievements and including and problematizing important contributions to global discussions. The originality of the course is to have identified a specific field of research and practice in China which is proving to make such contributions: Minzu education. Throughout its very long history China has been involved in intercultural dialogues with other countries/parts of the world but, in a sense, from within – dialogues between Chinese ‘ethnic groups’ or Minzus (Sude et al., 2020). Since its beginning in the 1950s Minzu education has represented an endeavor to take into account diversity and unity of the Chinese nation into account in different educational contexts. Although it is about ‘dialogue’ from within China, the course organisers argue that we can draw inspiration from it to expand understandings and practices of intercultural dialogue globally (e.g. Yuan et al., 2020; Sude et al., 2020; Dervin & Yuan, 2021). The course is not claiming that Chinese Minzu education is an answer to the problems faced in other parts of the world in terms of diversity education (intercultural but also multicultural/transcultural/global education). However, by examining what it is, what it entails and how it is ‘done’, students can reflect on how intercultural dialogue is problematized and taking place in the contexts they study and think about ways of rethinking it.


In this course the participants will learn and be urged to


–          1. Expand their scientific knowledge about intercultural dialogue by including new perspectives from China and other countries

–          2. Have other ‘stories’ around intercultural dialogue heard in world scientific and educational contexts; build up further confidence in sharing other voices about intercultural dialogue

–          3. Reflect with students from other countries on intercultural dialogue sustainably (e.g. negotiate what concepts and theories of intercultural dialogue could mean and entail across contexts)

–          4. Find ways to improve intercultural dialogue in education.


The course is targeted at Master’s and PhD students. Ideal participants will have a strong interest in disrupting current status quos about intercultural dialogue in education and be open to new and original worldviews about diversity and interculturality. They will also be willing to question their own assumptions about what intercultural dialogue is and what it entails. A background in ‘diversity education’ (intercultural/multicultural/transcultural… education/communication) is required.



The accepted students will be provided with pdfs of articles and book excerpts before the course starts.



20 students will be selected for this course.

Please send a motivation letter to interculturalcompetences@gmail.com by 1st April 2021

The letter should not be more than 500 words. After a brief self-introduction, you should state what you expect from this course and the contributions you are willing to make during the lectures. Try to be as clear and transparent as possible in the way you express potential expectations and contributions.


Questions should be addressed to interculturalcompetences@gmail.com