Plenary sessions

Plenary session 1 (Thursday)

You don’t need a brain to cooperate

Cooperation is a life principle, not an outstanding moral virtue. Rodents and ravens cooperate, there is even cooperation in the plant world. But cooperation is also a social skill which can (and sometimes should) be developed. Can we assume that adults generally have the same ability to cooperate socially in their private and professional lives? If not, how do we explain the differences? What effects do these inter-individual differences have on cooperation processes and solutions? Does it follow that people with higher social skills can normally assert themselves (because they are more ‘skilled’?) or is it actually more the other way round? These and other questions will be raised (and answered) in this presentation. As a result, it will become clear that a purely moralistic interpretation of cooperation (‘cooperate = good’) seriously underestimates the complexity of the matter.


The plenary session will be led by Prof. Dr. Roland Reichenbach, Professor of General Pedagogy, University of Zurich.


Welcome by Jürg Halter (Friday)

The writer Jürg Halter will open the second day of the IRUAS conference. He is not only a poet, musician and performance artist but also one of the best-known Swiss authors of his generation. Thanks to his numerous appearances around the world and projects with international artists, collaboration at national, European and international level is the norm for him.


Jürg Halter is a graduate of Bern University of Applied Sciences (Bern University of the Arts) and honorary advisor to Bern University of the Arts. Various appearances at universities in Switzerland and abroad show his great interest in higher education.


Plenary session 2 (Friday)

Enhancing intercultural collaboration in the ‚international’ university:  Aergia, Hormes or Morpheus?

The way interculturality is being discussed and introduced as part of the internationalization of higher education has witnessed some changes in the past few years. In my talk I will use three mythologic figures to review recent intercultural models/initiatives in Europe. These figures include: Aerfia the spirit of laziness and sloth; Hormes the god of effort and impulse; Morpheus the god of dreams. Do these initiatives represent a shift from the Aerfian ideology which has dominated the field over the past 20 years, with its lazy essentialistic and culturalist approach? My talk ends with recommendations for making interculturality ‘realistic’ and yet ‘transformative’ in higher education.


The plenary session will be led by Fred Dervin who is Professor of Multicultural Education at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Dervin also holds several professorships in Canada, Luxembourg and Malaysia. In May 2014 he was appointed Distinguished Professor at Baoji University of Arts and Sciences (China). Prof. Dervin specializes in intercultural education, the sociology of multiculturalism and student and academic mobility.

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