Critical Diversity Literacy: A View from Europe

Dr. Alisha M.B. Heinemann wearing a brown and burgundy scarf and light brown leather jacket, smiling

Please join us for a lecture by visiting speaker Dr. Alisha M.B. Heinemann on the Challenges of Teaching Critical Diversity Literacy to Teacher Training Students in Germany.

Abstract: Based on my research I argue that most teacher education candidates in Germany view themselves as non-racist and therefore they do not think they require anti-racism education. The particularities of Germany are important to consider given its present is marked by the history and legacy of the Nazi era in addition to its a long and cruel history of colonialism that connects it with most Western countries.  I argue that there is a need for students to decode their histories to understand their own entanglement within these legacies.  On the one hand, many of the white students have family members who were part of the Nazi era. It is important for these students to have an opportunity to process this history as part of learning to decode and fight against present day racism that impacts students.  On the other hand, twenty per cent of Germans are first or second generation immigrants, and many of them who are racialized and impacted by racism; however, most of them appear to have accepted discourses of meritocracy.

In this presentation I will discuss my research project which focuses on Critical Diversity Literacy (Steyn, 2015) for teacher education students in Bremen, Germany.  In particular I will discuss specific German discourses on diversity and discrimination and how these discourses maintain silences while amplifying the figure of the ‘good-hearted’ student. The empirical data includes portfolio and reflection entries which were created online in the context of four seminars focussing on diversity literacy for teacher education students in “Vocational Education with an Industrial-Technical Focused cohort”. The total of over 150 entries on well over 520 pages of material were created in the years 2020 to 2022 and analyzed using grounded theory (Corbin and Strauss, 2008).

Dr. Alisha M.B. Heinemann is professor for diversity education and learning passages at the University of Bremen, Germany. Her research focusses on critical pedagogy,  post- and decolonial theories, teacher education for a diverse society and learning in the life course. For more information:

Moderated by Dr. Michelle Stack, UBC Department of Educational Studies


Tuesday, August 30, 2022
12:00 – 1:30 PM PDT

In person
2206 East Mall, Room B151
School of Population and Public Health
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z8
Online via Zoom

This will be a hybrid event with livestreaming. Please indicate on the registration form whether you will be attending in person or online.


Co-sponsored by the Public Humanities Hub, Department of Educational Studies, Department of Central, Eastern & Northern European Studies, and Centre for Culture, Identity & Education.