In the book, Creating Multicultural Change on Campus, Raechele L. Pope, Amy L. Reynolds and John A. Muller offer an elaborate description on the depth of change, when multiculturalism enter into deconstructing and creating positive transformation as it relates to social problems in present culture that manifest in higher education. Multiculturalism in education signifies the learning and techniques that foster a pluralistic cultural environment, where there are diverse populations. Higher education institutions in our global world are rapidly changing and oriented to empower students to attain maximum potentials as learners. Presently, the immigration from one geographical area to other parts of the world is a less strenuous effort. As student population mix, increasingly coming together from many backgrounds to the institutions of higher education, the blend of cultures and the adoption of culturally responsive practices are necessary to accommodate them. The open global market segments of diversity also signifies that educational institutions can recruit, serve and collaborate with a broader and more diverse range of stakeholder groups. So educational leaders and students must understand that multicultural education is integral for improving academic success in a diverse community and it shapes the social, political, and cultural dimensions of their personal lives.
Dr. James A. Banks, in his book, Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society, identifies five dimensions of multicultural education: content integration, the knowledge of the construction process, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogy and empowering school culture and social structure. Positive relationships among people are significantly increased by the incorporation of multicultural standards in the education system. Habitually, education fosters unity as it advocates for the conjoint equality, appreciation, goals, commitment, as well as respect among the intellects. These attributes, in turn, develop the ideologies about interpersonal as well as intrapersonal relationships in institutions of higher learning. Upon completion of the studies, the healthy relationships are then rolled out in the society, and this promotes international unity and understanding. Besides, Sleeter & Flores in their book, Un-understanding Curriculum: Multicultural Teaching in the Standards-based Classroom points out that the social interactions and the direct contact that is evident in the learning institutions having students from diverse cultures reduce the instances of prejudice as well as the social stereotypes.
Fundamentally, education is one of the essential interaction avenues, and multicultural education, in particular, teaches individuals to acknowledge, embrace and respect differences and ensures the highest levels of academic achievement. Countries, workplaces and schools are increasingly made up of people of various cultural, racial and ethnic groups. In diversity, everyone is unique, and all recognize the different dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, physical ability, religious and political beliefs, and different ideologies. Promoting multiculturalism in the educational setting presents an opportunity for leaders and teachers to examine their backgrounds and introduce them to the student community for discussion in a professional and respectful environment.
There is a general predisposition that the individuals belonging to the more prominent culture often look down upon their counterparts who belong to inferior cultural backgrounds. This notion can be sufficiently corrected in a multicultural learning environment as the social interactions among students support the aspect of unity and equality. Sleeter and Flores notes, multicultural education boosts the liveliness of the society as individuals from different cultures interact and come up with more useful cultural blends. Embracing multicultural standards and following culturally intelligent communication techniques will aid educational institutions to make an inclusive learning environment through diverse sound policies and interpersonal practices. However, it is critical for college and university leaders to remember that instituting multicultural standards without cultivating cultural consciousness is akin to implementing change initiatives before nurturing input. So the individuals responsible for upholding them must fully comprehend the role they play in convincing diverse student populations they want to understand and support their unique needs.
Multiculturalism intensities the bond of connection that makes all one. Lack of understanding and not knowing the standards that one grew up under or may still be living under can lead to a false image of the individual or their whole culture. This can lead to prejudice, bias and hatred of not only of a person but also all who are of the same nationality. Without a good knowledge of other cultures, individuals live in a sheltered environment and lack the tools to make good decisions concerning the intrinsic value of each person and their gift to the world. Institutions of higher education should also develop student-facing instruments to assess if students can detect whether multicultural codes are in place, as well as the degree to which aspects of multicultural consciousness are discernible throughout their interactions with university leaders, faculty, and staff.
George Mathew Munjanattu is a campus minister and a research student in the Leadership in Higher Education program at Bellarmine University.