Education and the Sustainability of Languages, People, and Places: Insights from Indigenous Language Education

Im F+E-Kolloquium hält Prof. Dr. Haley de Korne von der University of Oslo ein Referat zum Thema «Education and the Sustainability of Languages, People, and Places: Insights from Indigenous Language Education». Das F+E-Kolloquium wird in Englisch abgehalten.

Donnerstag, 6. Juni 2024, 17.17 Uhr bis 18.45 Uhr
Uni/PH-Gebäude (UP)


Education is at the heart of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond the goal of quality education itself, we need the awareness and skills that education provides in order to support well-being for both humans and the ecosystems we depend on. Language plays a key role in education, and in sustainability agendas (Hult, 2023). For multilingual and minoritized language populations, however, formal education has sometimes served to increase inequalities rather than reduce them (Battiste, 2013; Henne-Ochoa et al., 2020). It is important to learn from historical inequalities in order to imagine and build socially just language education systems in the present and the future. In this lecture I examine some of the ways that formal education in different parts of the world has undermined the sustainability of languages, fostered greater social inequality, and created distance between humans and the natural environment. Examples from Indigenous language communities in the Americas, Asia, and Europe illustrate the harmful potential of monolingual biases, standard language ideologies, and de-contextualized language education.

This discussion serves as a basis to illustrate the importance of language education that aims to resist and reverse linguistic inequalities. Studies of education in minoritized, multilingual communities show that greater multilingual inclusivity and contextual relevance are needed to counter language endangerment and to foster the well-being of speakers and communities (García, 2009; Skutnabb-Kangas, 2009). Educators have a crucial role to play in these efforts. Despite the constraints of wider systems and policies, examples abound of educators building alliances and strategies to support socially just language education (Johnson & Johnson, 2015; De Korne et al., 2019). Potential strategies that educators and scholars can employ will be discussed, drawing on case studies in a variety of multilingual education contexts. Participants will be invited to reflect on whether and how these strategies might be useful in their educational context.


Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. Purich Publishing Ltd.

De Korne, H., López Gopar, M. E., & Rios Rios, K. (2019). Changing ideological and implementational spaces for minoritised languages in higher education: Zapotequización of language education in Mexico. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40(6), 504–517.

García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. Wiley Blackwell.

Henne-Ochoa, R., Elliott-Groves, E., Meek, B., & Rogoff, B. (2020). Pathways forward for Indigenous language reclamation: Engaging Indigenous epistemology and learning by observing and pitching in to family and community endeavors. The Modern Language Journal, 104(2), 481–493.

Hult, F. M. (2023). Sustainable Multilingual Education. In L. J. McEntee-Atalianis, & H. Tonkin (Eds.), Language and Sustainable Development. Springer.

Johnson, D. C., & Johnson, E. J. (2015). Power and agency in language policy appropriation. Language Policy, 14(3), 221–243.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2009). Multilingual education for global justice: Issues, approaches, opportunities. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas, R. Phillipson, A. Mohanty, & M. Panda (Eds.), Social justice through multilingual education (pp. 32–62). Multilingual Matters.


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