Nikolas Konstantin

I have a cameo appearance in this beautiful music video. Thought you might enjoy the song and video as much as I do….

Impressions from the New Paradigm of Education Forum in Paris

Roundtables with Wladimir Yakunin and Rani Singh, 70 participants presenting in Pecha Kucha Format (japanese for chit chat) and the lights of Paris made this event memorable in every way. Thanks to all the participants, hope to see you at our next events next year. 

Youthreporter prize 2013

Joking with ARTE moderator Andreas Korn and receiving the youthreporter prize 2013. 

Impressions from Rhodes Youth Forum 2013

Each year 100 young talented individuals from all corners in the world unite to present their projects on Rhodes. Diversity is key: seeing young NGO leaders from Nepal next to media analysts from Doha and young doctors from Japan is no uncommon combination here. the forum is committed to create the stage for international exchange, best practice sharing and connecting them to experts.

I have been part of the forum in the last three years. As a moderator I am responsible for hosting the project panel and facilitating the exchange with the experts. On day two we mostly host an workshop dedicated to broadening the understanding of future developments and the competitiveness of the respective projects within those projects. This “Future Roadmapping” has proven to be a valuable tool to get participants thinking about how to recognize probable developments in the future and how to incorporate them into their strategy.  

Here are some visual impressions from this years forum

Project leaders from Nepal, Russia, Japan, France & Germany developing future scenarios in our workshop

Kulturdimensionen: Hilfreiche Landkarten oder gefährliche Schubladen?

"Typisch Deutsch! Typisch Südländisch!". Wer viel gereist ist, ertappt sich oft dabei, dass einem diese Generalisierungen durch den Kopf jagen. Zu Recht, hat man doch die Realität in verschiedenen Ländern gesehen und sieht die kulturspezifischen Charakteristika stärker als andere. Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede zu erkennen, ist Teil unserer interkulturellen Reflexion. Eine Reflexion über die Unterschiede zwischen den verschiedenen Kulturen ist vital und hilft uns oft im echten Leben, schneller und angemessen zu reagieren. Aber wann ist etwas Vorurteil und wann helfende Stütze, die uns vor Fettnäpfchen bewahrt? Es ist vielleicht hilfreich, zu sehen, dass wir mit diesen Fragen nicht alleine stehen. Auch die Wissenschaft plagt sich mit ihnen. Besonders stark wird die Diskussion im Hinblick auf den Nutzen und die Gefahr von Generalisierungen zum Thema der so genannten Kulturdimensionen geführt.

umgang mit Problemen 1

Kulturdimensionen sind Kategorien, die gesellschaftliche und individuelle Phänomene beschreiben. Dank der Dimensionen von Edward T. Hall oder Geert Hofstede wissen wir zum Beispiel, dass wir in Japan aufpassen müssen, wie viel wir im Kontext von uns geben, dass unser Zeitverständnis nicht von allen geteilt wird, und dass es stark von unserer Kultur abhängt, wie nah wir uns jemandem nähern und uns dabei gut fühlen. Gert Hofstedes Dimensionen lehren uns unter anderem, dass die Hierarchie im Beruf in manchen Ländern größer ist. Sie zeigen uns die großen Unterschiede zwischen kollektivistischen und individualistischen Kulturkreisen besser zu verstehen. Kulturdimensionen sind hilfreich zur Einordnung kultureller Besonderheiten, zum Verständnis anderer kultureller Systeme und bei der Entwicklung eines eigenkulturellen Verständnisses.

umgang mit Problemen 2Alle Dimensionen haben jedoch eins gemein – sie zeigen Kulturen als eine homogene Gruppe, die statische Merkmale hat. Anders ausgedrückt, wenn wir die Theorien zu sehr für bare Münze nehmen laufen wir Gefahr, zu denken, dass alle Japaner kollektivistisch sind oder dass Kolumbianer Hierarchien brauchen. Anstatt unsere Augen also zu öffnen, können Kulturdimensionen auch unseren Horizont verkleinern, indem es die komplexe Welt in Schubladen teilen. 

Vorsicht sollte also geboten sein! Die Gefahr eines unreflektierten Umgangs mit Kulturdimensionen ist genau dann gegeben, wenn die Dimension als uneingeschränkte Wahrheit erläutert wird. Das ist sie aber in keinem Fall. Denn Menschen wachsen nicht in einem homogenen, monolithischen nationalen Sozialisationssystem auf, sondern sind immer vielfältigen kulturellen Einflüssen ausgesetzt. Deshalb kann es, vor allem ohne zusätzliche Hintergrundinformationen, zu einer unreflektierten, voreiligen Anwendung von Dimensionen auf Gesellschaften kommen. Professor Hansen erklärt diese Simplifizierung von Werten wie folgt: “In dem Maße, in dem Kultur reduziert wird, schwindet menschliche Autonomie und Gestaltungsfreiheit”. Man sollte sich deshalb bewusst sein: Kulturdimensionen zeigen uns generelle Eigenschaften, aber sind natürlich nicht in der Lage, die komplexe Realität zu erklären.

Kulturdimensionen und Generalisierungen sind deshalb mit Vorsicht zu genießen. Anstatt sie zu kritisieren, sollten wir jedoch besser lernen, differenziert und konstruktiv mit ihnen umzugehen. Genau wie wir im echten Leben Generalisierungen zur Hilfe nehmen können, um nicht in Fettnäpfchen zu treten und diese dann nach erstem Kontakt für ein komplexes Bild einer Person ablegen sollten – genau so sind die Kulturdimensionen nützlich, um eine grobes Bild der Diversität der Welt zu zeichnen. Es hilft deshalb, sich vorzustellen, dass Kulturdimensionen genau wie Generalisierungen Landkarten sind, die uns helfen, uns zu orientieren. Sie sind eine vereinfachte Darstellung der Welt, bilden jedoch nicht einmal annähernd die Hyper-Diversität unserer Realität ab. In anderen Worten – die Landkarte ist nicht die Landschaft. 

Dieser Beitrag wurde für den Newsletter von AFS Deutschland verfasst,  

Bild: Yang Liu: “Umgang mit Problemen”, aus “East meets West” (2007).

Changing Paradigms: From Multi-culti to Interculturality

Multiculturalism has failed“: German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently prescribed to the disappointment of the preferred paradigm of diversity policy. The verdict is shared all over Europe: multicultural policy is not adequate in finding the solutions of our super-diverse realities; but if multicultural policy is dead – who is taking its place? The question seems to be answered: Interculturality – a concept that focuses on the diversity of individuals and their points of contact seems to fit in the age of super-diversity, in the time where intercultural competence is hailed as the key soft skill of the century and diverse forms of identification are commonplace.

 This opinion is shared by the Council of Europe Ministers of Foreign Affairs. In their White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue launched at their 118th Ministerial Session they affirm: „Achieving inclusive societies needed a new approach, and intercultural dialogue was the route to follow”. The rise of interculturality as the new paradigm of diversity management raises the question if and how Intercultural policy differs from the previous approaches. What shall one answer to the common argument that interculturalism is merely a variant of multiculturalism, rather than an alternative framework for managing diverse societies? Furthermore, one is prone to question whether intercultural policy can evade the traps made by its predecessors.

What is the problem with Multiculturalism?

Multicultural policy is a set of policies regarded to enable cultures to live side by side on equal standing and value. The benefit of multicultural policies is that it enables minority cultures to remain in their traditional realm without being usurped or assimilated by the majority culture. Multiculturality has been a leading policy paradigm for the last 30 years in Europe. Its creation of stiff and ascribed identities stands in the spotlight for preventing interchange and promoting tensions and divisions. According to Cantle, a British professor, multiculturalism is still trapped in the thought paradigm of the 1970´s and fails to answer to the current era of globalization and diversity.

New diversities 

While the concept of difference in the 1960s was mostly focused on the relation between minorities and majorities within a nation this is no longer the case today. The differences between minorities and majorities have changed and no longer serve as a functional distinction. Cantle points out that difference exists today as well between minorities as between minority/majority relations. Furthermore, ethnic differences are no longer the primal resource of difference. Difference is today found in many different forms; identity is a hybrid of faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, and age.

New power structures

Castells comparison of globalization and identity changes offers valuable explanations for the diversification of state, society and identity. The rethinking of managing diversity is interconnected with various sociological changes including increased mobility, technological and economical globalization, and the rise of global public goods, which require global management. Those phenomena lead to a loss of national sovereignty and result in new ways of identification in the pluralistic societies of today. Regional identities are invigorated while national loyalties are fading. Thus, national, cosmopolitan and regional identities sit alongside each other. Castells justifies this argument by quoting Prof. Norris evaluation of Ron Inglehards World Value Study which shows a steady decline of identification with the nation state: The study, comparing identities at world, nations, and regional level, as well as their cosmopolitan identity, shows that 13% of respondents see themselves as “citizens of the world”, 38% as citizens of their nation, while the overwhelming rest puts local or regional identities first.

New Identities

Identity is not static and bounding. It is transitory. The Opatija Declaration in 2003 by the Council of Europe rejects the multicultural paradigm on the grounds of its static and stigmatizing majority and minority conception. The declaration points out that identities that overlap are a source of strength and common ground - overcoming the stiff idea of cultural stereotypes and social behavior. Following Castells definition of identity building, the process whereby people draw on a cultural attribute to build meaning in their lives, is more diverse. According to him the national paradigm of identification is giving way towards other forms of identification that can be 1) legitimizing, 2) resistance-based or 3) project-based. A focus on simple grounds of minority and majority group thinking will contribute to reinforcing past conceptions of identity, and homogenous stereotypes – none of which take the new forms of identity-building into account.

New Policies: from ethnicity to individual

Barrero criticizes that the key point missing in the paradigm of multiculturality is its complete lack of recognition of the interaction between people from different cultures and national origin. The White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue remarks that the paradigm of multiculturalism is seen to having fostered communal segregation and mutual incomprehension by perceiving minority communities as single collective actors. Instead of creating spaces of co-existence where dialogue rarely happens –individual connections between groups have to be focused. The multicultural paradigm fails to create the spaces of encounter, which embrace the differences and commonalities of its individuals. 

New paradigm: Why Interculturality should take over

Interculturality indeed offers new approaches to the commonly shared phenomena of diversity. The intercultural paradigm is helpful in addressing common problems of multicultural policy. The problems we here identifiy with the multicultural approach are as follows:

(1) Multiculturality focuses on the difference between minority and majority groups, which often don’t correspond with reality. It thus fails to acknowledge the various forms of difference within minority groups and creates a “faux” distinction. 

(2) The shift towards multinational governance, shared global public goods, and economic and technological globalization reduces the power of the nation state. The state-based identity, a major source of identification in the 1960s and 1970s, has now given way for regional, local as well as cosmopolitan forms of identification that also weaken the myth for a “homogeneous” nation. 

(3) Invigorated by societal challenges a recent phenomena sees new forms of identity. The national paradigm of identification is giving way towards other forms of identification that can be 1) legitimizing, 2) resistance-based or 3) project-based

(4) The multicultural paradigm treats minority communities as single collective actors and thus fosters communal segregation. It lacks recognition of the interaction between people from different cultures and national origin and the common space they create.

The Intercultural policy approach can evade the perils of its predecessor. It is for example not limited to minority/majority situations. Nor is it as ill-equipped in facing the new forms of Identity that Castells described to go hand in hand with globalization. Another advantage of Intercultural policy is the focus on the individual in contrast to previous approaches of group characterization. The characterization of individuals into an ethnic/religious or cultural group might have been useful in some regards such as in providing rights and recognition of difference. They have however also contributed in stigmatizing and stereotyping of minorities – in many cases leading to a reification of cultural differences. It is therefore a welcoming avenue to have an approach which regards the divergence of individuals as a given, but focuses on the shared areas of their interaction; areas where something new is created that is neither the minority nor the majority culture. In a nutshell, it is fair to say that the new policy consensus around interculturality has strong potential in addressing the fallacies of multicultural policy. The effectiveness of the intercultural policy approach however has yet to be proven. 

Counter Eurovision: The real diversity of Europe´s Music scene

Again Eurovison Song Contest? Please not! If you are as dissatisfied with the unoriginal Trash-pop one gets to hear at the biggest European Bad Taste event as we are – you might thirst for some real sounds. Here comes the antidote. 

No Doubt; Europe is a diverse place with great artist making innovative tunes. We would like to give account of the diversity and creativity. This is why we collected songs from young musicians that sing in their native language and enjoy a following from the alternative music-loving crowds in  their home-lands to give you a taste of what diverse good music can sound like. Here comes a playlist with songs in Bulgarian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Greek, Rumanian, Portuguese, Danish, Russian and Norwegian. 

 

The Cafebabel Young European Artist playlist:

Introducing: 

We would like to introduce you to some young European artist that are worth to be discovered beyond their country borders

Italy - Allessandro Manarino 

Italy´s folk hope makes music in between the spaces of poetry, theater and melody.

Germany - Casper

Germany is recently celebrating its Hip Hop 3.0 renaissance. The new generation fuses Rap with Electro (Marteria), with Pop (Cro), or in Caspers case with guitars and honest anger.

Poland: Maria Peszek

singer, songwriter and actress makes music for the nights from Wroclaw to the world

Ukraine: 5nizza

Hip Hop meets Reggae. Russian language meets sunny tunes. 5nizza (Russian for Friday) know on the sound of the weekend. 

 

Switzerland : Sophie Hunger 

Sophie Hunger writes great songs with poignant lyrics in English, German, French or Swiss-german. 

 

France: C2C

 Eclectic dj collective, multiple winners of the World Team DJ Champion ship with bird angle view on music.  

Greece -Maraveyas ilegál

Welcome to Greece/welcome to the musical world of Maraveyas ilegál Author, singer, director in chief of several instruments and presenter of a TV documentary showcasing Greek, Spanish and Italian artists.

 

A guide to smart European magazines

When talking about Europe the same arguments are endlessly dragged forward : Europe doesn’t have a common media, no public sphere, no debate. Is this true? To a great degree yes. Neither is there a common European channel (Euronews is not really worth mentioning, Arte.tv is unfortunately only a german/french co-operation), nor a common  magazine or newspaper that brings news and gossip ‘beyond the nation state’. The bigger European picture thus evades the people that actually would be curious to expand their horizon.

Does this mean that Europe has no common media? Is it the European media sphere in the hands of national actors only? No, there are rebellious projects that try to bridge the country-monotony and look at matters that matter to all Europeans. As always the youth is on the forefront of this rebellion. A rebellion that is strongly needed as, to say it with the words of the magazine ‘Europe and me’, “An evolving European society needs European media. only then can it become a common public discourse, which is the foundation of democracy and citizen’s sovereignty.”

Here I will present four of those European magazines with the urge to show more than the nation perspective: 

Cafebabel: In 2000 two Erasmus students arrive at Strasbourg’s political insitute with the revolutionary idea: to create the first pan-European media. For this goal friends are contacted, city hubs are build, in conjunction with a website www.cafebabel.co.uk. Some 13 years later the first pan- European media project Cafebabel is pentalingual: In English, Polish, German, Spanish, French the magazine provides refreshing perspectives from the European capitals. Yearly projects called ‘On the Ground’ send young journalists to other European cities to look with fresh perspectives on subjects such as the ‘orient’, ‘green Europe or ‘multiculturalism’. The Babel city blogs of which Brussels, Athens, and Berlin are the most prominent, feature a youth perspective on the happenings in European towns. 

Europe and me: The magazine ‘Europe and me’ was born out of the idea of a group of young people that liked Europe and themselves. What they have build out of this common interest is remarkable and very pleasing for the eye. With articles ranging from brainy topics such as the common European Energy Security strategy, to the difficulties of Long distance relationships the Mag speaks to the brain, body, baby, diaphragm and legs of ‘the European’.

Eurozine: Eurozine is showroom for the most relevant academic articles from Europe´s cultural elite in one place. A network and netzine of European cultural journals, linking up more than 80 partner journals and just as many associated magazines and institutions from nearly all European countries this netzine is an constantly updated collection of thoughts from Habermas to Vargas Llosa. In their own words “The true challenge is to take diversity seriously and make room for new perspectives — whether in word or thought. Only a rich and freewheeling dialogue has the potential to forge a common identity and put it to the proof.”

The European: Albeit only available in one language yet this magazine is targeted towards Germans that look beyond the nation state. The European sees itself as a space to give voices to people with strong credibility, to discuss critical points of views, show new perspectives and provide critical quality journalism. In ever increasing complex times the merit of a magazine that evades to give easy answers to complex subjects and focuses on the opinion building of the reader is at least apparent to me. 

Three answers for the questions of tomorrow

Education has to provide the tools that are needed to find adequate answers for the questions of tomorrow. But what are those questions of tomorrow? Best, if we take a look at society today. 

The world has become increasingly complex; risk, be it of economical, environmental or security nature are exponential and highly interwoven: what occurs in one country on the other part of the world now easily creates snowball effects on the other side of the globe. The effects of this global risk society is felt in almost every country of the world. Risk society corresponds with a second dilemma of our times: Multiculturalism and the transition towards becoming multicultural sensitive societies. Multicultural societies are reality in every developed country, and will increasingly do due to demographic change and other factors.

Taking those realities into consideration education has to equip young people with the tools to successfully navigate in a complex interwoven multicultural world. I therefore strongly advocate to place the following three skills at the centre education:

1.Intercultural Competence: complex risk society of today and increasing multicultural reality make intercultural competence one of the most important skills of the 21th century. While the definitions of intercultural competence differ, they all agree that IC is the ability to understand and navigate in environments that are different from the own. This capacity of accepting difference and learning to adapt towards changing realities is and will be a key determiner of success and value creation for tomorrow. 

2. Independence: our complex fast changing reality creates the need for independent thinkers, with the skills to acquire and process information by themselves. The scandinavian model is possibly the best blueprint of successful education with a system that focuses on identifying talents and weaknesses of young members of society in the early phase of childhood. While most states have an reverted educational pyramid, putting most funding in the later stages of education that will only benefit the elite of a country Scandinavian countries use most of their funds to educate all their youth to become skilled independent learners. The idea behind this approach is simple: once pupils have acquired the competence to learn by themselves and process information they are able to acquire what the need (and thus don’t need so much funding). The ability to process and capitalize on information holds especially true in times of the third educational revolution including free online university, open source learning and free data (i once made a small video to illustrate this change) . 

3. Innovation: education has the goal to create young pupils that can fill and enrich all strands of society. Following Sir Ken Robinson, an eminent figure in educational change, the opposite is the basis of our current educational model: our education system has the solemn goal of producing University professors. A new educational paradigm has to depart from right brain thinking and foster creativity and innovation needed for all disciplines. This will also pay off in the later work force:  innovation, and the drive to learn and create the jobs needed for tomorrow are more important than solemn employability. In the future jobs will be mostly created and discovered by oneself. Innovation, Intercultural competence and the ability to acquire and process information are at the core of this new paradigm. 

Diverse Europe

Our lives today are diverse and complex as never before. We are inhabitants of our city as well as our country, our continent and the world. Adding one’s culture, religion and likings, the picture of Europe as the home of 500 million of diverse and complex identities draws itself in front of our eyes. 

We are all different. Not a single European shares the same language, life and reality with someone else. It is this difference that makes the European project unique. Not only is it based on the narrative of enemies becoming friends, of reconciliation and of dignity, it also provides a framework for finding compromises with different ethnicities over the most pressing issues. 

Is it values and rights that make us citizens of Europe? For me the following holds true: being European is not only about enjoying rights, but also about a commitment to accepting difference and learning from one’s mistakes. Europe stands for diversity and equality: those values are what connect us and prove to be our biggest assets for the future.

In this light I made the following video fusing pictures i made in eight different European countries with a motivational monologue. The music comes from my greek friend Silo-con. My brother made the cutting and knitting. I don´t consider it ready yet but as I had to meet a deadline thats the video I have to comfort myself with. You can vote for the video here.

 

Inspiration

image

 The internet is the most proficient tool in curating, sharing and connecting people, ideas and data. In this tradition you can see the following links. Try some and see if they might provide some food for thought:

Good Reads 

The New Yorker

Brainpickings

The Economist 

NY Times

The Gates Notes

Good watch

TED 

Vimeo

Big Think

Good Listen 

Take Away Shows

Pitchfork

Good Learn

Coursera

EDx

Reshaping Education

Ever wanted to study a subject without having to go through the hustle of dragging yourself to campus? If yes, then you as many others will be happy to know that the learning revolution - yes, the one with free cutting edge University courses - on demand - on your screen - at home - has finally matured. 

Today’s announcement of MIT and Harvards new EDx Platform is a trenchant example of universities reshaping education online; so are Coursera, Open University and many other platforms on the starting line. 

Will we be smarter in the future? Will online education stay eternally for free? Will middle-priced universities loose clients and dry up? Many questions which maybe one of the courses starting soon on Coursera is able to answer. Viva la Education!


A click on the picture brings you further…


DRadio Wissen

What is the India Youth Forum? Why is it important to connect young people worldwide for brainstorm sessions and structured dialogue? I try to explain these questions in the following radiofeature of Deutschlandradio Wissen.

Journey - the book

My first book. For all those who love to feel the wind behind their backs and dream about conquering the horizon. 

Journey by Nikolas Konstantin 
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