21. Phi Beta Delta: Of Multiculture and Multi-Ethnic

The word "nation" can be tricky. Most -- in fact probably almost all -- nations are multi-ethnic and multicultural whether they like it or not. So the fond idea that the world is simply made up of nationalities wears a trifle thin. There is no country without its groups, without a long and often troubled history of migration, and without inherent pluralisms. There are of course, and alas, countries in self-denial that do not accept that they are pluralistic.

Phi Beta Delta is based on the idea that the world is multi-ethnic and multicultural, and that this is a virtue rather than a vice. Educational systems that were forged to create artificial identities and bespoke loyalties are potentially a problem. When imposed identities conflict with the aspirations and ambitions of the various groups within a nation-state, clouds appear on the horizon. What is sorely needed then is an education system that strikes a reasonable balance and inculcates respect between all the distinctive cultures in a nation, while acknowledging the need for common and uniting values, symbols and hopes that permit everyone to participate in a "nation".

Education can either ease or exacerbate the tensions between groups in a society. Curriculum can either favor or hinder the development of positive attitudes towards pluralism. Campus decision-makers should be aware that policies will either help integrate the campus or create divisiveness. A chapter of Phi Beta Delta is a good step towards saying that diverse groups are part of the strength of education.

Having a chapter is putting out a sign that says clearly that the campus welcomes the diversity that is the hallmark of a great college or university. Education that appreciates diversity is good education. Chapters of Phi Beta Delta bring together students and staff and faculty with many traditions who agree that internationalism is a positive and important educational component.

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