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Many adjectives are used in global research worlds to talk about education for diversity: cross-cultural, meta-cultural, polycultural, multicultural and intercultural – but also global andinternational (Dervin, Gajardo & Lavanchy, 2011; Grant & Portera, 2011). These “labels” can appear interchangeably – without always being defined – or be distinguished.

In order to avoid confusion, misunderstandings and to promote dialogue between researchers, this research group has adopted the label “Education for diversities”. Diversities refer to any person (or group of people) who defines herself as an Other or who is defined by society, institutions and her interlocutors as such. Diversities are based, amongst others, on language, geographical space (countries, regions, cities), but also gender, worldview, social position, and/or the combination of all these. The plural form reflects a critical approach to multiculturalism in education, especially in relation to the concepts of culture and identity but also to questions of power, neo-colonization, social inclusion and injustice. We reject forms of (neo-)culturalism in research and teaching, i.e. the use of a static understanding of the concept of culture, which overlooks contextualised interaction and present culture as an “alibi”. The use of this label also allows us to avoid continuing to dichotomise intercultural and multicultural education, for which, Holm and Zilliacus (2009) argue “it is impossible to treat and draw conclusions about intercultural and multicultural education as if there was only one kind of each since there are several different kinds of both multicultural and intercultural education” (ibid.: 23).

Our contexts of study are many and varied. The research group wishes to go beyond the canonical context of multicultural education in schools (generally in relation to the teacher’s work and/or “immigrants”) by including mobile education and the teaching of interculturality and intercultural communication in many and varied contexts (primary/secondary/vocational/higher education/adult education…).

A short history of Education for diversities at the Teacher Education Department of the University of Helsinki (ENGLISH / FINNISH)