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International Review of Education

, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 483–500 | Cite as

Universities as spaces for engaging the other: A pedagogy of encounter for intercultural and interreligious education

  • Scherto Gill
Original Paper

Abstract

Internationalisation of Higher Education coupled with students’ mobility across the globe in the 21st century has led to universities in many countries having to deal with an unprecedented flow of human diversity. Such diversity can become a potential source of conflict due to increased “otherness”, but at the same time, it also presents an ideal lifelong learning opportunity for engaging the other through intercultural and interreligious education. This paper begins with a literature review, exploring the challenges of international higher education and the opportunities it offers in fostering intercultural and interreligious dialogue and deeper engagement across values, beliefs, world views, habits of mind and ways of being. The review highlights that on the one hand, rich diversity and otherness within universities can easily be built up in so-called educated individuals as givens and therefore be treated with insensitivity or indifference. On the other hand, diversity can evoke the possibility for the exchange of thoughts, values and world views, sharing experiences, engaging with each other’s foreignness, and making the encounter a real enrichment and transformation. Next, using the narrative of a case study about conflicts within an international students’ residence, the author illustrates the necessity of encounter and engagement with otherness as decisive avenues for intercultural learning and interreligious understanding. Through a further analysis of the case study, she establishes that pedagogical strategies formulated around encounter, dialogue and engagement should be integrated into the students’ life at international universities so that they serve to bridge religions, cultures, world views and other differences, thus creating a sustainable culture of dialogue and peace. The paper concludes by suggesting a few key elements which seem useful for implementing a pedagogy of encounter in both formal and informal lifelong learning settings.

Keywords

cultural diversity intercultural education interreligious education internationalisation 

Résumé

L’université, espace de découverte de l’autre : pédagogie de la rencontre pour l’enseignement interculturel et interreligieux – L’internationalisation de l’enseignement supérieur doublée d’une mobilité mondiale des étudiants au 21e siècle conduit les universités de nombreux pays à se préoccuper d’un flux sans précédent de la diversité humaine. Cette diversité peut devenir une source potentielle de conflit en raison de l’accroissement de « l’altérité » mais elle présente tout autant une opportunité idéale d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie pour découvrir l’autre à travers un apprentissage interculturel et interreligieux. L’article débute par une analyse documentaire qui explore les défis de l’enseignement supérieur international ainsi que les opportunités qu’il renferme en favorisant le dialogue interculturel et interreligieux ainsi qu’une découverte plus poussée des valeurs, croyances, conceptions du monde, modes de pensée et façons d’être. Cette analyse révèle d’une part que selon une évidence présumée, la diversité et l’altérité importantes dans les universités seraient facilement assimilées par des individus soi-disant instruits, et peuvent par conséquent être traitées avec insensibilité ou indifférence. La diversité peut d’autre part évoquer la possibilité d’échanger pensées, valeurs et conceptions du monde, de partager des expériences, de découvrir l’extranéité de l’autre et de faire de la rencontre un enrichissement et une transformation véritables. Puis, en exploitant une étude de cas sur les conflits survenus dans un foyer international d’étudiants, l’auteure illustre la nécessité de la rencontre et de la découverte de l’altérité comme des voies décisives pour un apprentissage interculturel et une entente interreligieuse. Lors d’une analyse complémentaire de l’étude de cas, elle établit que les stratégies pédagogiques conçues autour de la rencontre, du dialogue et de la découverte devraient être intégrées dans la vie quotidienne des étudiants des universités internationales, de sorte à servir de lien entre religions, cultures, conceptions du monde et autres différences, et à créer ainsi une culture durable du dialogue et de la paix. L’auteure conclut en proposant quelques éléments clés susceptibles d’être utiles pour appliquer une pédagogie de la rencontre dans les contextes à la fois formels et informels de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for PeaceBrightonUK
  2. 2.University of SussexBrightonUK

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