Embracing Difference/Challenging Difference: Two Sides of the Same Coin

The title of this presentation may seem contradictory: how can both “embrace” and “challenge” be aligned? In part, it is a matter of semantics, but at a far deeper level it is understanding that this is not an “either …or” situation, but rather a “both … and” necessity. As a word, “difference” means that things are dissimilar. When we talk about embracing difference, we are looking to learn from others: from their beliefs, their perspectives, their cultures. As stated on the ACE 2020 website “it is only through encountering cultures and belief systems unlike our own that we learn anything about the flaws and limitations inherent in our own perspectives”. However, we also need to challenge difference: the difference in opportunities for some groups of people; the difference in salaries for the same work depending on a range of variables such as age, gender, nationality; the difference in educational opportunities depending on location or culture. We need to both embrace and challenge difference! Importantly, all of this is currently being distilled in a global world where a pandemic seems to have the upper hand, and the global village is returning to the insularity of individual nations. Can we break through the binaries that impose difference: rich and poor; old and young; right and wrong; us and them? This presentation explores a range of these issues as they confront us at the end of 2020.

Read presenter's biography.

Posted by IAFOR