2014-15 Multiculturalism, Immigration and European Integration

Multiculturalism has been an important theme since the formation of the European Union. As Will
Kymlicka notes, modern societies are characterized by deep cultural diversity. How people with
different cultural backgrounds could live as ‘One’ becomes the crucial question of modern politics. The
particular political condition of the European Union both within itself and on the global level has made
multiculturalism the center of much debate and struggle. Within itself, the EU is by definition a union
with different nations and cultures, not to mention every traditional nation-state has its own share of
cultural differences/conflicts. With a vision of ‘integration’, how to create a viable community with a
common citizenship without diminishing identities of certain cultural groups? On the global level, over
the last decades, the EU has been taking different cultures in from outside. Immigration has been
transforming the landscape of the EU politics since its beginning, with conservative right-wing
backlash as the latest symptom. Do immigrants have the moral obligation to be ‘naturalized’ in their
host countries’ culture? If they do, to what extent? If cultural groups such as the Muslim have to the
right to retain their cultural identities, what if some of their moral codes are in conflict with EU nations’
legal and/or moral principles?
Therefore, the theme of ‘multiculturalism, immigration and European Integration’ could be a great
window through which Chinese students could get to know the EU. Instead of learning merely different
‘features’ of the EU, the students could look deep into the EU’s successes, problems, and struggles.
Moreover, they could link the topic with China’s own challenges. China is big country with very
different cultures and ethnic identities, which has become more and more a political problem. Although
there are certainly big differences between China and the EU in this regard, the nature of the problem could commonly be reduced to the concern of ‘how could different people live as One.’ The Chinese
lessons may even be of help for European politicians and scholars in their thinking of their own
challenges in this respect. The teaching and discussion under this theme would certainly be a great
opportunity for both Chinese students/scholars and European professors to engage in a fruitful crosscultural
dialogue. A sequence of sub-themes would bring them to study and reflect on different aspects
of this topic.

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