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Politics, Ethics, Language & intercultural education in a post-secular worl...

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Storey Hall, RMIT City campus (Building 16, Level 7, Conference Rooms 1 and 2 Green Brain) 336–348 Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria

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Political and ethical engagement for tertiary education in a post-secular world: Focus on language & intercultural education

On a global scale, occidental rationalism is no longer the model to follow, but rather the exception (Habermas 2008). Within Western secular states like Australia, the rise of religious plurality, of de-institutionalised forms of religiosity and, most importantly, of conservative and extremist groups within established religions, are all indications that an understanding of current world issues cannot do without an understanding of the dynamics between religious and secularist ideologies, their role in the history of national cultures, cross-cultural encounters and identity politics. The emergence of post-secular modernity is accompanied by increased popular grips on essentialist, nationalist expressions of culture (e.g. Brexit, the election of President Trump’s). Both post-secularism and cultural essentialism indicate in turn that unexpected configurations of worldviews are now at play, potentially challenging the values of critical thinking (over blind ideological faith), liberty, equality and cultural diversity embedded in democratic ideals.

In view of this new global societal and cultural landscape, this seminar considers the role tertiary language and intercultural education can play as a field, in terms of political and ethical engagement, in helping counteract the potential negative effects of post-secularism and of cultural essentialism, echoing similar recent calls on this topic in the literature (see Beacco 2013, Kramsch 2014, Dasli & Diaz 2017, Crozet 2017). Issues such as the choice of cultural content, whether or not it should include explicit teaching about religion/other ideologies; of linguistic content, including the teaching of critical discourse analysis skills; of engagement with rather than avoidance of controversial topics in class discussion; as well as the need for real communication/Socratic dialoguing between lecturers and students are addressed. Consideration is also given to the meaning of intercultural competence in the context of language and intercultural education from a political and ethical perspective.

Panel Members (subject to confirmation):

Chantal Crozet (Facilitator) RMIT University

Joseph Lo Bianco, Melbourne University

Kerry Mullan, RMIT University

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Storey Hall, RMIT City campus (Building 16, Level 7, Conference Rooms 1 and 2 Green Brain) 336–348 Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria

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