Preparing for Cultural Diversity in South Tyrol: The Importance of Sense of Belonging




Multiculturalism, Assimilation, Colorblindness, Cultural beliefs, Teacher education


Italy has historically played a pioneer role regarding inclusion. However, inclusion in the educational context has mainly focused on students with special needs. Lately, this understanding has broadened taking into account the various heterogenous backgrounds of the students. For South Tyrol, the question of inclusion arises particularly with regard to the consideration of different cultures. Therefore, developing intercultural skills plays an impor-tant role in the curriculum of the reformed teacher education master pro-gramme of the University of Bolzano. The aim is for the graduates to perceive interculturality as an enrichment. The present study examines the attitudes (cultural beliefs, values, and motivational orientations) of the German-speaking students (n = 823) of different cohorts with regard to interculturality and relates these to their study and work experiences on the one hand and their feeling of belonging to Italy or South Tyrol on the other. The results showed mostly positive attitudes that tend to increase with increasing experiences. Sense of belonging turned out to be the strongest predictor of attitudes, an aspect that has so far not been adequately researched. The results underscore the importance of self-reflection skills and opportunities during study.