Intercultural dialogue


Intercultural Learning and Dialogue: Higher Education has a role to play

The idea of "intercultural dialogue" takes as its starting point the recognition of difference and multiplicity of the world in which we live. These differences of opinion, viewpoint, and values exist not only within each individual culture but also between cultures.

'Dialogue' seeks to approach these multiple viewpoints with a desire to understand and learn from those that do not see the world in the same way as we do. An effective 'dialogue', therefore, is an enriching and opening interaction which encourages the respectful sharing of ideas and an exploration of the different thought-processes through which the world is perceived and understood. This interaction emphasizes opportunities for broadened and deepened self-knowledge and worldview. As a process, intercultural dialogue encourages an identification of the boundaries that define individuals, and then asks them to relate across those boundaries and even to call them into question.

As an international representative of the universities of the world, one of the IAU's primary functions is to identify and research issues that are of concern and interest to university institutions. In this capacity, the IAU has been working on the issues of globalization and internationalisation for some time, and has also focused specific attention on the Role of Higher Education in fostering intercultural Dialogue. In this context, the Association organises events and participates in Conferences and Meetings on related topics.

Following up on an International Conference organised by the Council of Europe, the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy, the Wergeland Center and IAU in Oslo,in June 2011,the following book has been published:

Cover book 2012 Reimagining Democratic Societies: a new era of personal and social responsibility, by Sjur Bergan, Ira Harkavy and Hilligje van't Land (eds.) (2013): Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing - Council of Europe Higher Education Series No.18, ISBN: 978-92-871-7537-3

Reimagining democratic societies, although a demanding task, is one in which higher education must engage. As societies change, our understanding of democracy must also evolve. We need democratic institutions, but also democratic culture and democratic innovation. Citizen participation, as a cornerstone of committed citizenry deeply involved in creating and sustaining diverse democratic societies is essential for human progress democracy, must go beyond citizen mobilisation on just a few issues. The authors – academics, policy makers and practitioners from Europe and the United States – argue this point, making the case for why democratic reimagination and innovation cannot succeed without higher education and why higher education cannot fulfil its educational, academic and societal missions without working for the common good. Case studies provide examples of how higher education can contribute to reimagining and reinvigorating democracy.

It is hoped that this book will inspire others to develop new initiatives to promote Intercultural Learning and Dialogue and education for democratic citizenship around the globe. Follow up events are being discussed.

To order the book, please go to:

IAU Members in good standing can obtain a free copy of this publication by writing to Dr. ****H. van't Land, IAU Director Membership and Programme Development @


Following up on the IAU International Conference 2009 on the role of Higher Education in fostering Intercultural Dialogue, a book has been published:

Council of Europe and IAU Book New: Council of Europe and the International Association of Universities book on the Role of Higher Education in promoting intercultural dialogue

Edited by Sjur Bergan of the Council of Europe and Hilligje van't Land of the IAU (International Association of Universities), Speaking across borders - volume 16 of the Council of Europe Higher Education Series - explores the role of higher education in developing intercultural dialogue in our societies. It complements Intercultural dialogue on Campus (Higher Education series No. 11) and the issue of the IAU journal Higher Education Policy (HEP, vol. 18.4) on the same topic and includes contributions from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North America. The book demonstrates that education will need to play a key role in developing the ability to conduct intercultural dialogue, which is an integral part of democratic culture. It sets out the political context for intercultural dialogue, explores how universities can become actors of intercultural dialogue and offers examples of good practice from various parts of the world.

To order, please go to:

Council of Europe Book


IAU 2009 International Conference: The Role of Higher Education in Fostering the Culture of Dialogue and Understanding

Notre Dame University - Louaize, Lebanon, 4 - 6 November 2009

Lebanon flier The International Association of Universities and Notre Dame University - Louaize (NDU) jointly organized this international event.

The theme was and is in line with the IAU's goal to promote cooperation and understanding at the international, regional and national levels and contribute to freedom and justice, human dignity and solidarity through teaching and learning, research and service. Given Lebanon's diversity and the country's need to find a harmonious way to life for all its citizens, Notre Dame University - Louaize (NDU) was particularly pleased to host this IAU international Conference.

The conference brought together higher educational leaders, scholars and students to discuss how higher education today, contributes or could contribute to creating a culture of dialogue at the institutional, local, regional and international levels.

IAU Budapest Expert Seminar: Intercultural Learning and Dialogue, November 12-13, 2004

Participants The Budapest Seminar: Organized by the International Association of Universities (IAU) and the Central European University, Budapest (Hungary) In collaboration with the Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary, the International Association of Universities (IAU) organized an International Expert Seminar on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue, in November 2004. This Seminar was also sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the UNESCO Participation Programme, Foreign Affairs Canada, and the Agence de la francophonie (AUF).

The Seminar brought together a group of academics and campus practitioners to assist in the development of a concrete actions IAU could undertake on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue. The Seminar allowed taking stock of actions undertaken at higher education level in this field, around the world. Please click on the following link to read the Report (rtf, 216 kb). The WebPages entitled 'Case studies' will lead you to the texts presented in Budapest.

The central purpose of the work undertaken by the IAU Working Group on higher education and intercultural learning and dialogue is to foster interest and expertise in order to help staff and students prepare to function effectively and harmoniously in a multicultural society.

Case Studies on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue

"On the occasion of the IAU Experts' Seminar on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue in Higher Education (November 2004, see report), the Seminar participants presented Papers and Case Studies outlining institutional strategies, policies and practices or programs in place or to be developed by their respective institutions of higher education, and beyond. This Seminar was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the UNESCO Participation Programme, Foreign Affairs Canada, and the Agence de la francophonie (AUF).

The papers and Case Studies posted online exemplify some of the challenges faced by institutions in this domain, such as integration of ethnic minorities and foreign students, gender disparities, inter-religious dialogue and highlights some concrete initiatives. Vol 18, no. 4 of Higher Education Policy, which focuses on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue will appear this month. It gathers some 11 texts and Case studies presented in Budapest. These texts are currently being translated, thanks to the financial support provided by AUF and will be made available online soon.

Should you wish to contribute a Case Study presenting the strategies developed within your institution on intercultural learning and dialogue, please contact us at"

Case Studies:

Working Group


Selected Bibliography on Higher Education and Intercultural Dialogue:

Should you wish to have other references included, please do send a copy of the book or article to IAU to the attention of Dr. H. van't Land (Contact: or


  • At Home in the world: bridging the gap between internationalization and multicultural education / Olson, Christa L.; Evans, Rhodri; Shoenberg, Robert F. / American Council on Education [ACE].-- Washington,DC, 2007 . 43 p. (Working Papers on Internationalizing Higher Education in the United States. no. 4)


  • Dialogue among Civilizations / UNESCO.-- 2006. 271 p.
    MEETING: Asia -Pacific Regional Conference on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations for Peace and Sustainable Development. Hanoi, Viet Nam, 2004.

  • A New paradigm for higher education and culture in East Asia / Lee, Jeong-Kyu.-- IN: Higher Education Review, vol. 38 no. 3, pp. 53-63, 2006 - ISSN: 0018-1610
    CONTENTS: This article explores how cultural identity reveals itself in East Asian higher education. The following questions are addressed. First, what is culture and what is the characteristic of East Asian culture? Second, what are the cultural situations of East Asian higher education? Third, how does the cultural identity of East Asia reveal itself in higher education? Finally, what are new paradigms in East Asian higher education? The article offers a theoretical basis to establish new paradigms of higher education in East Asia.

Main declarations

Some Initiatives

Thank you for providing us with information on projects and others initiatives in the field of higher education and Intercultural Dialogue (


  • The Center for Intercultural Studies and Multicultural Education
    Adelaide University, Australia
    Pioneer in teaching and research on multiculturalism and ethnic diversity in Australia; development of culturally inclusive curricula; resource for public actors and professionals.

  • The Center for Culture Renewal
    McGill University, Canada
    A cross-disciplinary center that focuses on the fundamental connections between public policy, culture, moral discourse, and religious conviction to the end of providing public actors with quality resources.

  • International Academy for Intercultural Research
    University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii
    The Academy serves as a forum for exchanging ideas, theories, research and know-how for senior intercultural researchers, academics, and trainers. The Academy fosters high-level interdisciplinary research and scholarship on intercultural issues by organizing conferences, publishing a newsletter and maintaining a website with papers and other resources.

  • Center for International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) - a multi-disciplinary research group
    University of Bergen, Norway
    The center addresses in depth issues of identity, plurality and multiculturalism in the urban environment; and of accommodating diversity in society in general. The center also researches gender issues in cultural diversity; as well as citizenship, mobility and migration. A newsletter and a magazine in English or Norwegian are published regularly and available online.

  • The European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER)
    Utrecht University, The Netherlands. [h][30017]
    The Center seeks to encourage comparative multi-disciplinary research on the topics of migration, multiculturalism, ethnic exclusionism and ethnic conflict, racism and nationalism. Apart from research, the center also provides expert analysis and information on key issues, as well as instruction and training; it organizes seminars, publishes extensively and serves as a host institute for researchers.

  • Centre d'études amérindiennes
    Université du Québec à Chicoutimi - Canada

  • Centre d'anthropologie culturelle
    Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

  • Centre d’Etudes Nord-Américaines de l’ULB (CENA)
    Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

  • Centre interculturel euro-libanais
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Centre de recherche et d'études arabes
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Centre de recherche sur les identités nationales et l'interculturalité
    Université de Nantes - France

  • Centre de recherche sur les conflits d'interprétation
    Université de Nantes - France

Policies and principles

Programs and projects

  • Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies
    Aalborg University, Denmark.
    The Department undertakes teaching and research within the areas of intercultural communication and inter-country interaction and influence on each other with special focus on language and culture and emphasis on their intercultural, comparative, and historical aspects.

  • INTERACT : Intercultural Active Citizenship Education
    The Danish University of Education, Denmark.
    This project analyses the impact and implications for education of the political changes resulting from EU integration, enlargement and globalization. It focuses on the intercultural element of citizenship education and aims to provide guidelines for teacher education.

  • EAIE courses
    Professional development programmes - Training Courses 2008

  • Chaire d'anthropologie interculturelle
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Chaire Jean Monnet et Centre d'études sur l'union européenne (Centre d'excellence)
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Chaire de Francophonie
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Groupe de recherche sur la construction interculturelle des mondes sociaux
    Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

Pedagogical resources

Case studies

Degrees and diplomas

  • Master's Program of Intercultural Encounters - Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
    A multi-disciplinary program giving a strong theoretical basis for understanding situations where cultures interact, while at the same time developing the practical skills for intercultural interaction and personal cultural sensitivity. The program also works to promote research and education in intercultural interaction.

  • Executive Master in Intercultural Communication - University of Lugano, Switzerland
    This multidisciplinary program is designed to furnish the practical tools necessary for analyzing multicultural situations, resolving conflicts arising in such situations, and communicating efficiently in different professional contexts. The overall aim of the program is to improve the intercultural communication in everyday life as well as in the public and private spheres.

  • Bachelor and Master's Program in "Business, Language and Culture" - The Department of Intercultural Communication& Management, the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
    The programs combine the study of business with language, communication, cultural education. The curricula seek to provide the intercultural knowledge through a cross-disciplinary, international and comparative approach. In addition, the Department offers courses in "Languages, Communication and Cultural Studies" and a bachelor's degree in "International Business Administration and Modern Languages".

  • Course on "Intercultural Dialogue and Intercultural Education" - Bourgas Free University, Bourgas, Bulgaria.
    The course was introduced in the context of the initiative of UNESCO chair on Human Rights and Culture of Peace, in Bourgas, Bulgaria in the effort to promote human rights, democracy and intercultural dialogue. Contact person: Prof. Rumen Valchev

  • Certificat en immigration et relations interethniques
    Université du Québec à Montréal - Canada

  • Certificat en éducation interculturelle
    Université du Québec à Montréal - Canada

  • Master en médiation interculturelle
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

Initiatives for students

  • L'Association des Etudiants internationaux Autour du Monde of the Université de Nantes aims to facilitate the integration of the foreign students within and around Nantes by encouraging contact with French students and organizing intercultural activities. It proposes activities such as conversation clubs, city visits, dinners at university restaurants, foreign film festivals, etc.

  • AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) is an international organization present in more than 800 universities throughout the world and made up of students devoted to the promotion of international understanding and co-operation. Through the programs international training courses, the students can acquire valuable work experience at foreign companies, allowing them to increase their level of cultural awareness, social responsibility and entrepreneurship.

  • Student mobility programs: CREPUQ

  • AFS Programs
    AFS, previously known as "American Field Service", is a not-for-profit international organization offers to support intercultural relations training. This network based in 50 countries, offers student exchange programs between one another.

Parallel events



Links on Education and Intercultural Dialogue

For a list of Specialized Institutions please click here