One of the greatest challenges of modern democracies is to find a stable balance between unity and diversity. How to deal with ethnic and cultural differences, that is the main question. Minorities are at the core of this. These might be old ethnolinguistic minorities that live within larger nation states. Presently, some of these minorities, like for instance the Catalans in Spain or the Russian-speaking Ukrainians, cause geopolitical tensions through their strife for independence from encompassing majority states. At the same time migratory movements around the globe have created all kinds of new minorities, like for instance Kurds in Germany or Turks in the Netherlands. Whereas the ‘old’ minorities have been granted rights to celebrate their language and culture, these new minorities are rather expected to give up their original culture and language in order to become full fledged citizens.
Structure of the programme
The first year begins with lectures on minority languages, linguistics, and political and historical aspects of minorities and multicultural society in Europe. Students learn about multilingualism and measures to promote or regulate the use or influence the status of a language. A part of the second year is dedicated to research and students also choose one of the many available minors or specialise in a particular minority language, such as Frisian, Catalan, or Turkish. Depending on their choice, students study this language in Groningen or at another university in the Netherlands or abroad (in your third year). Alternatively, students may pursue a minor in a subject such as History or International Relations, or do a internship in the Netherlands. If you choose to study Frisian, you follow a number of course units and complete the programme with a Bachelor thesis. Outstanding students can make their programme more challenging with broadening and deepening course units in the Honours College.
The programme allows students to specialise in a particular minority language and culture (the ‘minor’ programme). They have the opportunity to spend part of their studies abroad at a partnering university to deepen their knowledge on a specific (minority) subject, or complete an internship at an (international) organisation. Students could for instance choose to spend half a year among minorities abroad, either within or outside of Europe.
Closer to home, students can also choose to specialise in Frisian language and culture, by following the unique Frisian track.
A student’s view
In the programme there are a lot of students and teachers, who come from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. “Getting in touch with these different languages and cultures makes the things you learn come alive and gives the student a first-hand perspective on minorities and multilingualism.” Even though the programme is relatively new it offers “a great variety, and finds a good balance between the more linguistic side of things and the political and historical courses.”
After finishing the Bachelor programme students are capable of analysing – and solving! – intercultural problems between minority and majority groups. The programme aims to prepare you for a career on a local, national, or international level where different cultures and languages meet.
As experts on social diversity, our students can find work in a host of different sectors. One could become a language policy advisor for multinationals that need to effectively deal with the large cultural diversity of their employees. A degree in minorities and multilingualism could also be followed up by studying journalism to become a news correspondent in conflict areas where the knowledge on cross-cultural communication, identity, society and multilingualism is invaluable. Want to know more about a career after studying Minorities & Multilingualism? Read more about what to expect after your studies or read the experiences of our graduates on our alumni page.