Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives

By James A. Banks | Go to book overview

PREFACE

NATION-STATES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD have become more racially, ethnically, religiously, and culturally diverse since World War II (Sassen, 1999). Although the United States has been diverse since its founding, the ethnic texture of the nation changed dramatically after 1965 when the Immigration Reform Act was enacted. The United States is currently experiencing its largest influx of immigrants since the turn of the 20th century, when most of the nation's immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Today, most of the immigrants coming to the United States are coming from nations in Asia and Latin America. Between 1991 and 1998, 75% of the legal immigrants to the United States came from these two regions. Only 14.9% came from Europe (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1998). The U.S. Census Bureau (2000) projects that ethnic groups of color will make up 47% of the U.S. population in 2050.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Japan are among the nations that have become more diverse within the last 60 years. After World War II, large numbers of individuals from former colonies in Asia and the West Indies immigrated to the United Kingdom to improve their economic status (Banks & Lynch, 1986). Canada, Germany, Australia, and Japan experienced an increase in racial, cultural, language, religious, and ethnic diversity when thousands of people, who were seeking better economic opportunities, emigrated to those nations (Castles & Davidson, 2000; Douglass & Roberts, 2000; Hoff, 2001; Moodley, 2001).

The increasing diversity in nation-states throughout the world raises questions about the limits and possibilities of educating students for effective citizenship. Multicultural societies are faced with the problem of constructing nation-states that reflect and incorporate the diversity of their citizens and yet have an overarching set of shared values, ideals, and goals to which all citizens are committed (Banks, 1997).

Only when a nation-state is unified around a set of democratic values such as justice and equality can it protect the rights of cultural, ethnic, and language groups and enable them to experience cultural democracy and freedom. Kymlicka (1995), the Canadian political theorist, and

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