A study case in Ljubljana, Slovenia
By Samar Zughool
Intercultural learning is a lifelong learning process that may take place in any formal, nonformal, or informal setting; it is a process that may happen internally through self-directed learning or within a group. To activate intercultural learning for sustainable development, we shall consider the process from a non-anthropocentric and a non-ethnocentric point of view, where individuals with various cultural backgrounds learn inclusively from each other in a context that considers other beings, such as plants, animals, and the environment surrounding them. Through this case study, we elaborated on critical issues where learning through intercultural exchanges may contribute to building inclusive and sustainable societies that are responsive to the Agenda 2030. First, we created an initial framework through desk research, which shows that culture is studied as a considerable agent in achieving the sustainable development goals. More studies shall be conducted to unleash the power of intercultural learning as an enhancer of the role of culture for sustainable development from non-anthropocentric and non-ethnocentric points of view. After the desk research, we tested the framework in an interactive seminar that gathered eleven individuals who live in Slovenia and identify themselves as coming from Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Algeria, and Slovenia.
Through intercultural exchanges for sustainable living, the participants of this case study personalized the concept of sustainable development, applying it onto concrete issues that hinder sustainable living in their surroundings. Later on, and through intercultural learning, they came up with concrete solutions for these issues, and we reviewed the initial framework by adding more subtopics where intercultural exchanges as a form of intercultural learning contribute to sustainable living. In conclusion, this case study is a proof that intercultural learning is a vital tool for achieving zero hunger, food security, zero waste, responsible consumption and production and energy efficiency, as well as for reducing inequalities and eliminating ethnic-based and gender-based discrimination, especially against people who identify as women. This case study has its limitations because the topics are vast, the participants and the desk research could not cover all the topics that fall under the themes of interculturalism and sustainable development, and it does not thoroughly test the solutions provided by the participants. Yet, this case study is essential as a base to build on; therefore, it is a critical study to inspire further participatory researchers to investigate, test and document the valuable solutions for sustainable development by integrating intercultural learning with sustainability for inclusive and sustainable societies.