This past week all of us PhD students plus Maja took part in the 10th Biennial Congress of the International Academy of Intercultural Relations (IAIR), held at the College of Staten Island in New York. Just getting to and from Staten Island turned out to be something of an adventure, and a good reminder that figuring out public transportation in a new place is always a great test of intercultural skills. It was fun getting to explore “the forgotten borough,” through a social program that included a Staten Island Yankees baseball game, a tour of Historic Richmond Town and Fort Wadsworth, an afternoon off spent walking the boardwalk and dipping our toes in the Atlantic, and a lovely conference dinner held at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, which was formerly used as housing for retired sailors.
The conference included keynote speeches by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, with which he advises the UN and other international peacekeeping organizations, and Dr. David Webber, a social psychologist who offered insight into his research into radicalization and terrorism in contexts across the world.
Maja was the winner of the Early Career Award and gave a lecture highlighting her doctoral research as well as her current projects as a postdoc here in Potsdam. She also co-chaired a symposium titled “Interethnic Contact Experience at Schools – Effects on Psychological Adjustment, Academic Achievement and Intercultural Competence of Culturally Diverse Students,” with Dr. Karen Phalet and Dr. Alaina Brenick, which brought together research from Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Alaina will be working with Maja on a research visit in Potsdam starting in just a few weeks, so it was great for all of us to get to catch up with her again before she joins our team for the summer. Miriam took part in the same symposium, presenting one of her dissertation studies titled, “From Tolerance to Understanding: Exploring the Development of Intercultural Competence in Multiethnic Contexts from Early to Late Adolescence,” which was recently published in the Jouranl of Community and Applied Social Psychology. For her symposium contribution, Maja presented a paper called, “Effects of the Cultural Diversity Climate on Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Students’ School Belonging and Adjustment,” which is currently under review.
Sauro, Jana, and Ursula each presented individual papers, all of which are either under review or are in the process of being submitted to journals. Sauro gave his talk within a session focusing broadly on education, presenting a literature review he conducted titled, “Challenging Beliefs Towards Cultural Diversity in Teacher Education: A Synthesis of Training Effects and Methodological Concerns.” Jana and Ursula rounded out the conference with the very last two talks in the final session. Jana presented a paper called, “Feeling Half-half? – Exploring Relational Variation of Turkish Heritage Young Adults’ Cultural Identity Compatibility and Conflict in Austria” and Ursula presented “Who Gets to Be German? A Thematic Discourse Analysis of National Identity in Germany,” both of which are qualitative studies which will act as chapters within their respective dissertations.
In the weekends before and after the conference we all made use of being in New York, visiting friends and exploring the city. It was also fun to see some of the folks we met two years ago at the IAIR conference in Norway and last year at IACCP in Japan. What an amazing opportunity to be able to engage in interesting academic exchanges while making friends all over the world!