Multiculturalism: Australia, Canada and China
22 November 2011
Scholars from Australia, China and Canada have met at a major international conference to compare their countries' experiences of multiculturalism.
The conference was initiated by Professor Rob Tierney, the dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University.
"Australia's engagement with multiculturalism was at its height in the 1980s, when entities such as the Special Broadcasting Service and the Office of Multicultural Affairs were established," Professor Tierney said.
"It is timely, with the current Australian Federal House of Representatives' enquiry into multiculturalism, to have brought together this impressive group of international academics to explore how modern nations define multiculturalism and act on that understanding."
More than 30 speakers from leading education and social work faculties discussed multiculturalism as the product of numerous influences, including economic, political and social forces. Its importance to policy, national diversity, language and education were all considered, with the aim of developing collaborative projects.
An opening address was delivered by the Chancellor of the University, Professor Marie Bashir and the keynote was given by Professor Joe Lo Bianco, from the University of Melbourne, who examined educational responses to multiculturalism and globalisation.
Conference speakers from the University of Sydney included:
- Ghena Krayem, Sydney Law School, on the recognition of shariah, or Islamic law, in Canada and Australia
- Ming Sze, School of Psychology, on her study of cancer patients' perceptions of illness and its relationship to emotional distress.
- Dr Wang Li, China Studies Centre, on Chinese language education in Australia, based on her own experience of teaching Chinese language and culture for a decade
- Professor Alison Elliot, Faculty of Education and Social Work, (in a co-presentation with Christine Tayler from Charles Darwin University), on early childhood education for remote communities in Northern and Central Australia.
International speakers included professors Charles Ungerleider and Jo-Anne Dillabough from the University of British Columbia, and professors Yule Jin from Southwest University and Yunpeng Ma from Northeast Normal University in China.
The conference was a collaboration between the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney and the University of British Columbia in Canada together with Beijing Normal University, Northeast Normal University and Southwest University in the People's Republic of China.