Faculty approaches to diversity in Eastern European education: implications for teaching sensitive topics


Eastern Europe
higher education
sensitive topics
conceptions of learning


This article analyses the concept of diversity in education in the context of Eastern Europe, and how its meaning might differ from that used in Western-focused literature. The study explores the ways in which faculty interpret diversity based on their experience of teaching contexts as being homogenous, situational, or internationalized, for which interviews have been conducted with university educators in Eastern Europe. In a phenomenographic analysis, three different approaches to how teachers engage with diversity in the classroom were identified: (1) exposing students to diversity as an external phenomenon through teaching; (2) focusing on the diversities among students in a given classroom and learning how to navigate them; (3) using the diversities present in the classroom to facilitate inclusive teaching and learning. We argue that the meanings and intentions associated with the understanding of diversity are constitutive of how faculty see their role in facilitating student learning in diverse classroom, and especially of their strategies to address sensitive and controversial topics. Finally, we discuss the implications for teaching practice and academic development, in addition to the relevance of diversity in Eastern European classrooms.  



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