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Derald Wing Sue Named to UNESCO Multicultural Effort

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Derald Wing Sue

Derald Wing Sue

Derald Wing Sue, TC Professor of Psychology and Education, has been named by the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to serve on a 10-member advisory panel for the Teaching Respect for All project, an effort to develop a global curriculum designed to foster racial, ethnic and multicultural tolerance among children ages 10 to 16.

The creation of the curriculum, a 30-month effort that began in January 2012, is designed to address rising levels of racism and xenophobia in nations around the world. The project will culminate in 2015 with a pilot distribution in five to 10 countries.

Sue has been a leader in the fight to move identity and difference—race, gender, sexual orientation—to the center of counseling psychology and to spotlight the impact these issues can have on the mental well-being of people who stand outside the mainstream. More specifically, he is an internationally recognized expert on microaggressions, the often unintended or unconsciously inflicted slights that members of minority groups experience constantly at the hands of the dominant group.

The advisory board, which will commission and critique research papers, met this past April at UNESCO headquarters in Paris and again in October in Brazil.

“It’s fascinating to talk to people from around the world about this subject,” says Sue. “They all have different perspectives, but they converge around the need for respect for everyone and the belief that education is absolutely essential because it’s preventive rather than remedial.”

Sue attributes the rise in racism and xenophobia in part to a more difficult economic climate. “When times get bad, people tune in to immigration and scapegoating goes on,” he says. “At the same time, many countries are now beginning to experience the racial and ethnic diversity that has long characterized the United States.  New cultures, customs and religions threatened old, established notions of what’s precious and important to us.”

Sue hopes ultimately to convince UNESCO to focus its efforts on even younger children. “Kids begin to notice differences by the age of three,” he says. “By ages five to six they begin to attribute positive and negative qualities to difference – mostly negative. So the window of opportunity is small.”


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