Experiences from Academia Around the World
Edited by Saija Katila, Susan Meriläinen and Janne Tienari
Chapter 2: Tempered Radicals Seizing the Moment: Creating a Master’s Programme on Cultural Diversity in a Dutch University
Patrizia Zanoni and Hans Siebers INTRODUCTION Ethnic and cultural diversity has featured high in the Dutch public arena in the last decade. The higher unemployment rates of ethnic minorities, lower school achievements and higher criminality rates of migrant youth, the problems of lower class and ethnically mixed neighbourhoods, murders and possible terrorist action inspired by religious convinction, the debates on criteria for awarding citizenship to immigrants, political asylum policies, and minimum requirements for granting social and unemployment benefits have been at the top of the political agenda and often in the media. As in other European countries, the multicultural character of Dutch society is today perceived as highly problematic. An ethnicist interpretation of societal problems is feeding a nationalistic ideology that threatens to exclude 1.7 million people with a nonWestern foreign background residing in the Netherlands.1 The current social and political context is calling us, Patrizia Zanoni and Hans Siebers, to consciously reflect on our role as diversity scholars. As currency expendable not only in the academic but also in various public arenas, our scientific knowledge is today particularly politically loaded. To what extent and in which forms are we to engage in these debates? How can we, as academics, counter dominant ideas and foster inclusion of ethnic minorities in society? In this piece we reflect on our engagement by discussing our experience of setting up a Master’s programme in Organization of Cultural Diversity at Tilburg University, together with a multidisciplinary, culturally diverse team including anthropologists, linguists, psychologists, organization studies...
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