Euskampus at the Conference in Vienna University “Diversity & Inclusion across Languages – Insights into communicative challenges from theory and practice”.

2022/05/01 18:50:00 GMT+2

Euskampus, presented the work carried out by Karin Van der Worp and Itxaso Etxebarria Lekanda on the cross-borders project Ocean i3 at the Conference "Diversity & Inclusion across languages". The presentation, entitled: “Cross-borders multilingualism project, an opportunity for social cohesion”  aimed at sharing a vision of the multilingual practices observed in this international community.

The encounter,  organised by the  School of Business and Economics of the University of Vienna,  gave the opportunity to all participants during two intense days, 29 and 30 April, to share results on research done in the area. Researchers and practitioners from diverse origins such as Europe, America or Africa shared their visions on how to manage diversity and inclusion (D&I) across languages. 

In recent years, more and more attention has been paid across the corporate and academic worlds to how to manage diversity and inclusion (D&I). Like the entire D&I agenda, its communicative dimension attempts to respond both to economic needs and to moral and ethical concerns. Indeed, research focusing on different languages has shown that organisations are increasingly relying on their expressive ability to convey an inclusive identity and to represent values such as D&I as part of their institutional DNA.

Vienna University 2

LC Library and Learning Center, Vienna University.

This interdisciplinary conference aimed to gain insights into communication for, within and about a diverse society. In order to do so, it brought  together researchers and practitioners to discuss two main issues:

  • how organizations communicate D&I across languages; and
  • how they approach language-related issues arising within global and diverse settings.

Euskampus, presented the work carried out by Karin Van der Worp and Itxaso Etxebarria Lekanda on the cross-borders project Ocean i3. The presentation, entitled: “Cross-borders multilingualism project, an opportunity for social cohesion”  focused on linguistic diversity in multilingual and international environments. In order to improve the multilingual dynamics in this community, the need for improvement led the authors to do research on the cross-borders project Ocean i3, a project between the UPV/EHU and the University of Bordeaux. The community puts into play a diverse repertoire of languages including the majority languages Spanish and French, the minority language Basque and the Lingua Franca English.  The community seeks to create a multilingual workgroup in a context where otherwise the use of a Lingua Franca policy could threaten the linguistic diversity.

The sense of belonging to this multicultural group implies a multi self-representation and acceptance of this diversity. The social identity comprises a variety of identities that allow each other to co-exist.

The authors vision multilingualism as an opportunity, as part of their identity, rather than a problem to be solved, conscious as they are that identity is constructed through language. The sense of belonging to this multicultural group implies a multi self-representation and acceptance of this diversity. The social identity comprises a variety of identities that allow each other to co-exist.

Their contribution aimed to shed light on several multilingual practices frequently used by this community with the goal of creating a linguistically diverse working environment.

 

The conference took place on 29-30 April at the emblematic LC Library & Learning Center, designed ty Zaha Hadid Architects. A building of 44,000 square metres holding 1,500 seats in the library, a cantilevered roof with monitor with an enormous plate glass window with a view of the campus and Prater Park. 

Vienna University

LC Library and Learning Center from the inside, Vienna University.

 

Diversity & Inclusion were the topics of varied and highly interesting sessions coming from diverse places all over the world. South Africa, Norway, Dominican Republic, Germany, the USA, amongst others,  were some of the countries represented. It was an opportunity to confirm how in some places “research demonstrates that embracing language difference provides a context where the generation of inclusion on the ground is accomplished through interpersonal communication” as Jeffrey Kappen from Drake University commented in his presentation “Plurilingual practices for Inclusive Management”. According to him, "plurilingual attitudes/skills promote inclusion, a concern with relationships, and sensitivity to the simultaneity of identities". Furthermore, "at its core, a plurilingual approach allows speakers of different or multiple languages to collaborate through their respective linguistic and paralinguistic repertoires to create meanings that are mutually understood". He also added in his conclusions how "standardizing Language Policies reduce barriers to efficient managerial control, improve communication, conflict management and knowledge transfer", amongst other benefits. Kappen reflected on the idea : "Do we lose diverse ways of thinking if we force everyone to speak the same language?".

Moreover, following EU’s motto “united in diversity” Alice Leal, from University of the Witwatersrand reaffirmed the idea  of “protection of diversity is indeed not only hailed as one of its cornerstones but also enshrined in its treaties" by the European Union. She shared her views on how Europe tackles with multilingualism and the pull of English as Lingua Franca. 

Something to highlight was the multimodal discourse at the event were sign language was used to help deaf-mute participants follow easily the whole encounter. At the same time, all presentations offered on the second floor were transcribed in real time on a digital board, where not only the speech from the speakers and moderator but also the questions from the audience were projected in English in order to facilitate comprehension.

The contribution of Euskampus has been to give news on the research being done in Ocean i3 project, a cross-border,  multilingual, multicultural project developed by the UPV/EHU and the University of Bordeaux where students, professors, management staff and social territorial agents deal with the global challenge of ocean pollution made by plastics and microplastics on the New Aquitaine coastline.

The community shares a varied linguistic repertoire and multilingual practices are everyday’s issue. Receptive multilingualism, translanguaging, simultaneous interpretation in real time online and offline are some of the common practices of this community who flexibly interact in the four languages of this community and co-construct the meaning all together.

The community manages to diminish the threat of adopting just English as Lingua Franca and incorporates on a daily basis the 3 local languages naturally. A recently published Language Policy helps maintain the linguistic diversity providing also a set of game rules to enable participants to reassert their linguistic identities without invading others.  A tools-kit which helps users to know how to deal with this linguistic diversity allowing a multi-face identity to coexist.

An opportunity for social cohesion in the heart of Europe.

More information about the conference on Vienna University of Economics and Business' site.

More informartion about Ocean i3 and multilingualism.

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