The project “Promoting Intercultural Competence of Students in Pre-Service Teacher Education Degree Programs – the Identity Project” is one of 12 sub-projects of the ZeLB project “UP Network for Sustainable Teacher Education” funded by the DAAD within the framework of the “Lehramt.International” (2021-2024) program and aims to promote the intercultural competence of students through “internationalization@home”.
To this end, an intervention program with a resource-oriented approach to cultural diversity in schools (the Identity Project) will be expanded. The Identity Project is an evidence-based high school intervention developed by Prof. Umaña-Taylor (Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, USA) and adapted for the German context by the working group “Cultural Diversity in Education and Development” of Prof. Linda Juang (University of Potsdam). For 8 weeks, students explore their own cultural identities, learn about the cultural identities of their classmates, discover commonalities and differences, and confront stereotypes and prejudices. Based on this project, the seminar “Diversity and Identity in the Classroom: A Practice-Oriented Seminar” was developed for students in pre-service teacher education degree programs at the University of Potsdam and the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The seminar combines theory, practice, self-reflection, and experiential learning. It aims to enable students in pre-service teacher education degree programs to develop their knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy to become interculturally competent teachers and teach their own students about issues related to cultural and migration-related diversity. Relevant approaches and theories for engaging with diverse classes are discussed (e.g., topics such as culture, identity, diversity, equality, racism), along with a presentation of the Identity Project where students in pre-service teacher education degree programs engage in some of the activities themselves, discuss how to implement and guide discussions with high school students, with the goal of trying out some of the project activities at a cooperation school. Within the framework of this sub-project, the aim is to establish further partnerships with schools to carry out the project. Training students in pre-service teacher education degree programs to implement the Identity Project by having them participate in aspects of the project to reflect about themselves is one concrete and promising way to become interculturally competent and promote positive relations in classrooms and schools. The Identity Project is being adapted in other European countries including Greece, Sweden, Norway, and Italy. In addition, an international network meeting “School Interventions for a Constructive Approach to Cultural Diversity” is to be organized to share ideas of how best to integrate the implementation of the project into teacher training and, in this way, create international exchange opportunities for students in pre-service teacher education degree programs.
Furthermore, in cooperation with the Center for Teacher Training and Education Research (ZeLB), the Center for Languages and Key Competences (Zessko), and other interested working groups, we aim to combine efforts to prepare all students in pre-service teacher education degree programs to become competent in engaging with issues related to cultural diversity. We are also striving to establish a working group to integrate basic mandatory seminars or content on the topic of intercultural competence into the study regulations of the pre-service teacher education degree programs.