Interculturalising the university

Impact: Attitudes and behaviours, Awareness and understanding, Health and wellbeing, Society and culture


When I joined the university in 1994, the word "intercultural" was not part of the university's lexicon. My main project over these years has been the introduction of critical intercultural thinking into teaching, supervision, training, research, and social responsibility and community engagement activities. This intercultural project has progressed collaboratively, avoiding disciplinary silos, instead engaging with diverse perspectives voiced through multiple languages - an intentional challenge to dominant ideologies about what is valued in research.

In teaching, over these three decades the 'intercultural' has been embedded within undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (e.g. BA Language, Literacy & Communication; MA TESOL) as well as being the focus of whole programmes (e.g. MA Intercultural Communication). The core of the interdisciplinary Manchester Global Award was also intercultural. And these developments occurred within my 'home' discipline (Education), but also more widely in the Faculty of Humanities and in the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning. They involved onsite teaching but also intercultural distance learning materials development within the University and beyond (for the Hellenic Open University, and the British Council).

From teaching to training, I've delivered intercultural workshops for incoming and outgoing Study Abroad students, for the university's security team, for new doctoral students, for new academic staff, and as part of the Institute for Teaching and Learning. The generative power of the intercultural project can be seen, for example, in my teaching not only in Education (e.g. the core module, Language Education as Intercultural Practice) but also in the Music Department (where I developed an Intercultural Musicking space through Klezmer Ensemble Performance).

Social Responsibility has become the underlying focus in all of the above activities. For example, the language teacher education area has been applied in refugee education both locally and overseas; and the musicking now involves klezmer in the community (e.g. music-based events with Holocaust survivors) and in the service of well-being (through music-based reminiscence sessions with those living with dementia).

Over the years, my research (often collaborative, interdisciplinary, and multilingual in character) has focused on intercultural aspects of:

• Language Education
• Language Teacher Education
• Distance Education
• Online Education
• Researcher Education
• Refugee Education
• Music Education.

From considerations of the intercultural purpose of teaching English as a Lingua Franca, to narrative study of the zones of interculturality evident in the multilingualism of elderly Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria, to problematisation of the binary understandings of social inclusion in refugee education in Greece, to exploration of the intercultural musicking potential of klezmer ensemble performance being taken into the community, to critiques of the Anglo-centric tendencies within research, to arguing for academic life to embrace the plurilingualism of staff and students as a means of developing a rich and diverse epistemological ecology, to reviewing interculturally-inclined linguistic practices in Global Mental Health, to supervising often narratively-undertaken doctoral studies focusing on some aspect of the intercultural as supported through our LANTERN researcher community ... thus, the intercultural project I have been engaged with all these years has extended far beyond my initial language teacher education concerns.

In the most recent phase of my intercultural career, I have become a mentor for a strong and diverse new generation of interculturalists with whom I'm privileged to work and have as colleagues. Whether in Education, or Music, the intercultural project is in safe hands as the university continues to prepare people for engagement with an interculturally complex world as it continues to develop its engagement with that world in an ethos of social responsibility and equity.
Impact dateJan 1994
Category of impactAttitudes and behaviours, Awareness and understanding, Health and wellbeing, Society and culture
Impact levelEngagement