About the event
This day, also known as ‘World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’ was set up to celebrate the variety of cultural traditions all over the world. Inaugurated by UNESCO in 2002, the day is used to promote the value of intercultural understanding and the protection of cultural diversity.
The UN recognises that culture and cultural institutions play an important role in a sustainable, healthy and happy society. This day therefore highlights the importance of protecting different cultural traditions, supporting artists and funding cultural programs.
How to approach it
‘Culture’ is a world rich in different meanings and associations that can be difficult to define. It’s important therefore to discuss with students' about what culture means to them. Generally, culture is used to denote specific traditions and practices that take place within social groups from small communities right up to countries and continents.
Students will be most familiar with the ‘fruits’ of culture e.g. the practices different cultures are associated with such as food, music, art or architecture. Ask students: how can we tell different ‘cultures’ apart? What is different about other countries' national foods, festivals and clothing? What things define the student’s own culture? Students may find answers for their national culture, regional cultures, or the cultures of their families.
Encourage students to find the different cultural influences they interact with everyday, show them that cultures mix and that they are part of many interacting traditions. Talk with students about the importance of these different cultures coexisting. Ask them, what’s your favourite thing that has a mix of cultures?
Next, show students how cultural practices and cultural institutions are important for society.
Ask them, what’s your favourite place to experience culture? A restaurant, a museum, a concert, a social club or somewhere else? Work with students to think through all of the people involved in creating this enjoyment. Encourage an appreciation for the time and effort put in. Finally, discuss with students: how can we support this cultural diversity? What can we do? What should governments do?
‘Culture’ takes many forms from different foods, arts and buildings to different greetings, festivals and philosophies. What is your favourite thing from another culture? What about your own culture? Can you think of one food, art or music tradition that uses a mix of different cultures?