“Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage at the City Level” JRIPEC Lecture Series at Aoyama Gakuin University
Lecturer: Mr. Phil Wood, Urban Therapist, Comedia, UK Day/Time: January 20, 2012; 2:00-4:00pm Place: So Ken Building, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo Organizer: JRIPEC (Joint Research Institute for International Peace and Culture), Aoyama Gakuin University Moderator: Dr. Sayoko Iizasa, JRIPEC, Aoyama Gakuin University
Mr. Phil Wood, as a leading proponent of “interculturalism,” gave a talk about the benefits of diverse people interacting with each other in city development.
After emphasizing the importance of a change in mindset about diversity, not as a threat but as an opportunity for creativity and innovation, Mr. Wood critically reviewed the past city policies for immigrants in Europe, namely, “guest worker policy” in the UK, “assimilation city policy” in France, and “multicultural city policy” in Scandinavian countries. Rather than adopting such policies that fail to encourage the interaction of diverse people including immigrants, cities should take the “intercultural cities” approach to give reasons and incentives for diverse people to interact, along with places, institutions, agents and tools of interaction. In other words, the city might be regarded not as a static machine but as a dynamic ecosystem, where social conflicts are managed rather than suppressed in order to achieve the diversity advantage of human interaction, according to Mr. Wood.
Finally, he gave his reflections on Japan regarding interculturalism, and pointed out the existence of fears and barriers which are preventing accommodation of diverse people including foreigners in many Japanese cities. At the same time, however, Mr. Wood took note of many city administrators and community leaders who are capable of dealing with potential conflicts and creating diverse advantage for their cities and regions, such as Hamamatsu City with emphasis on public education for all children including foreigners living in the city.
Throughout his talk and Q&A session, Mr. Wood’s positive and optimistic attitude toward interculturalism was quite impressive and persuasive, making the audience feel a little better about the future of city life in the globalized world.