The Current Socio-Political Context
Recent socio-political developments show that the need to better understand other cultures has become more important than ever. There has been a clear increase in ethnic and cultural tensions across the globe since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Europe´s refugee crisis is discussed in the media as a challenge on several levels: many individuals in Europe feel threatened by the influx of migrants, while the stance of some governments in dealing with this crisis is seen as undermining cultural and socio-political cohesion within the EU. In this context, intergroup and cultural experts are needed to develop social interventions and socio-political strategies for easing tensions and re-establishing good relations at the individual and societal level. Questions of intergroup relations, identity and self-esteem in the context of global mobility and inclusion also become highly relevant when searching for future solutions that prevent expressions of extremism in different segments of society. There are numerous societal issues in both contemporary Europe and across the globe that require well-trained individuals who have a deep understanding of the role of intergroup relations and culture in society and who can develop competent and innovative solutions to address these complex issues.
The Academic Fields of Social and Cultural Psychology
While Social Psychology has flourished since World War II, providing important insight into the relationships between diverse social groups, Cultural Psychology, which looks at how cultural factors relate to human functioning, is a relatively new area of inquiry. Scientific studies were formally introduced in the 1970s-80s, which is also the historical period that saw the formation and establishment of a very visible global market economy, the end of the Cold War and an integration of ex-communist countries into the European Union. Consequently, the late 20th century was marked by globalization, with an increase in economic, political, social and informational relationships among people across national boundaries. A greater need developed to understand other cultures and to find ways to get along with each other.
The topic of cultural differences and universals is currently experiencing a boom in research efforts. This is driven by insights from fields as diverse as psychology, evolutionary science and neuroimaging, and paints a new and more complete picture of the human species. Global-MINDS students will contribute to this endeavour and be at the forefront of ground-breaking research.
In the current global knowledge economy, professionals are increasingly linked to individuals, organizations, and countries with varied cultural backgrounds. Global-MINDS hopes to contribute to the development of contemporary societies by fostering inclusion within countries (e.g., in terms of ethnic minorities-majority relations) and across countries (e.g., by increasing intercultural understanding and competence).
The Master Programme assures excellent training of graduates who will be able to deal with contemporary social and societal issues in an innovative, reflective, culturally sensitive and therefore sustainable way.