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What is cultural diversity?
Basically, the term cultural diversity suggests that there are differences between one group of people and another within a given context (society, organization etc). While this is true for all definitions of cultural diversity, there are a number of competing definitions that have been put forward to try and describe cultural diversity. According to Dietz, the term cultural diversity is still being used ambiguously in various debates related to identity politics and multiculturalism among others. For instance, according to Prengel, cultural diversity allows us to identify the differences within given institutions where it can recognize such difference as gender, disability and immigration among other given that these are sources of differences between the groups identified. On the other hand, diversity has been used to describe or differentiate between groups on the basis of primary (gender, race, age etc) and secondary (religion, language, education etc) dimensions.
What is cultural diversity according to UNESCO?
While there are many competing definitions and ideas about what cultural diversity is, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an agency of the United Nations, adopted the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001 and recognizes cultural diversity as a common heritage of humanity where culture takes on different forms across space and time. Therefore, cultural diversity recognizes the uniqueness and plurality of the identities between groups and societies that in turn make up the humankind. As such, UNESCO equates cultural diversity to the biodiversity that can be seen in nature. This is an important definition that has been agreed upon by members (countries) of UNESCO thus representing a global perspective of this diversity.
Cultural diversity and rationale
UNESCO, under the United Nations, recognizes the significance of cultural diversity and strives to preserve this common human heritage for its value in expression, innovation as well as creation. These are some of the valuable reasons as to why adding this dimension to the curriculum development and instruction plan would have beneficial impacts following once the plan is implemented. UNESCO recognizes cultural diversity as one of the most important factors in development given that it allows for an array of options from the different perspectives allowed by diversity. Given that we live in a globalized world toward, diversity is evident in every society, organization or institution. This, therefore, makes it an international dimension. By including this dimension in the curriculum and instruction plan, it will further promote increased interaction between individuals from different cultural and ethnical backgrounds etc not just between student and faculty members in school, but also with other students from different regions across the globe. This is particularly important given that the world is becoming increasingly globalized and there is a great need to learn, understand and appreciate different cultures and practices across the globe.
Rationale of cultural diversity
This has the potential to enhance a multilingual group of students who can easily communicate with people from different regions across the world, which is particularly important in this and the next century as the world quickly becomes a global village. However, most importantly, this dimension is important for students given that it will provide an environment for knowledge diversity where students can adopt different viewpoints necessary for innovation and enhanced creativity. Cultural diversity is, therefore, an important dimension that will greatly inform the plan on enhancing interactions between students and faculty members of different backgrounds to learn from each other for a common good.
Here, the benefits for students should not be underestimated. Ozman and Erdil state that "Positive effects are related with increased synergies and spillovers which arise from the association of different viewpoints, and increased opportunities for knowledge recombination". Therefore, the plan would not only prepare students and the instruction to tackle local issues and challenges through the knowledge acquired, but also prepare them to be global citizens.
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