A partnership between
United Nations Alliance of Civilizations & BMW Group

Intercultural Innovation

Dr. Fethi Mansouri

Chair in Migration and Intercultural Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University.

‘Innovation’ has become a buzz word for government, corporate and civil society sectors striving to respond to more complex social realities and seeking to improve overall productivity  performance within their respective domains. At its most basic level and from a very general perspective, ‘innovation’ can be  seen as the capacity  to  harness  invention and creativity among people within any particular organization or  context. The notion of ‘intercultural innovation’, however,  is much  more challenging as it implies a pursuit of the same ‘creativity and invention’ agenda but within a culturally and linguistically socio-political context. This means and implies an ability to understand the manifestations of cultural diversity, the requirements of meaningful intercultural relations and  the practice of inclusive intercultural engagement.   At a more abstract level, the notion of ‘intercultural innovation’ requires a whole system approach whereby government social structures (e.g. education programs), political ideologies (e.g. how national identities are constructed and […]

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Michael Bach

Founder and Chair at Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion

Intercultural innovation is about getting the best out of people and giving them the opportunity to soar and to succeed, and not allowing biases to get in the way. (…)I think that if we can all just respect each other a little more, then we can work together and that’s where you start to see innovation. I don’t preach tolerance in my work. I don’t believe in tolerance, I always say my mother-in-law tolerates me. I don’t want to be tolerated, I want to be respected. I don’t need you to have the same beliefs that I do; I don’t need you to follow the same moral compasses I do. I need you to respect who I am as an individual and I will provide that same respect to you. If you can do that then you can get into a room and you can do magical things in terms […]

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August Soto

Asia Pacific and Eurasia analyst specializing in China

Intercultural innovation is the capacity of people from different cultures to overcome barriers posed by language or background in order to learn about and understand other cultures by creating lasting projects with potential replicating effects. It can range from collective art to the integrated capacity to solve very concrete problems. Even though in principle it is not related to conflict resolution, intercultural innovation could also make significant contributions in this field. It is a conscious and articulated process based on a multiplicity of dialogues or trialogues and brainstorming schemes.   Any person with any cultural background from any profession or geographic location can be innovative in this field. He or she could be found in academia, civil society, at grassroots level, enterprise or diplomacy, in cities or in the countryside. The key factor is the disposition for shaping cognitive, empathetic and emotional ties to interact and create with people from […]

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Dr. Barry van Driel

Secretary General of the International Association for Intercultural Education
Juror of the Intercultural Innovation Award

In a globalizing world where geographical boundaries are becoming increasingly less relevant, the demands on our social and communication skills are changing. Being part of the global community means that we need to reflect on the many cultural assumptions, values and expectations that generally make us feel comfortable and help us understand the world around us. Moving from a monocultural lens to a multicultural one means we must first learn to observe and listen more often to those who have a different background and history. It implies withholding judgment more often about those who appear to be different from us, and learning to respect others for who they are. Intercultural innovation goes beyond this, since it also requires people with different nationalities, backgrounds, languages, ethnicities and religions to learn to live together and to collaborate in an effective way. In short, it means gaining intercultural competence so that we can […]

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