Subproject 4: “Campus Languages”
Multilingualism as a Resource for Sustainable Governance”
Reference dimension sustainability: Institutional/governance
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ingrid Gogolin, Prof. Dr. Drorit Lengyel, and Tobias Schroedler in cooperation with Human Resources Development at Universität Hamburg
- Which languages other than German are spoken by technical, administrative, and library staff?
- In which areas of work are staff members actively employing multilingualism?
- How do they meet the challenges presented by multilingualism?
Most people speak more than one language. Most countries in the world are multilingual. People from roughly 190 countries live in Hamburg. They have brought their languages with them—yet no one knows exactly how many.
Multilingualism flourishes throughout the city: in its streets and markets, its shops, businesses, municipal offices, and schools, and, of course, at the University. A sustainable university must finds forms of communication that make understanding in a multilingual environment possible. Only then can it do justice to its commitment to research, teaching, and education.
In this project, researchers investigate which and how many multilingual skills University staff members possess. We aim to identify which languages technical, library, and administrative staff speak. In addition to identifying these linguistic resources, researchers will also investigate their potential for sustainable use. As a first step towards this goal, we will determine how many staff members are multilingual by distributing a questionnaire to the University’s roughly 2,600 employees. The survey will commence in February 2016.
In several cases, speaking more than one language at a rudimentary level or fluently has become the norm in our society. Whether these multilingual abilities are the result of schooling or personal circumstances, the fact remains that Germany, Hamburg, and their institutions are multilingual. We would now like to find out how this fact manifests itself in Universität Hamburg’s administration. We are interested in determining which languages other than German are actively used and which skills are theoretically available but have as yet been untapped. All of these skills are an important resource at the University. They should be appreciated as such and they play an extremely important role in sustainable university governance.
Multilingualism and employees’ language skills constitute an important resource for a “sustainable university.”
It is important to highlight the significance and value of this resource and to find ways to nurture and cultivate it. Thus, the questionnaire contains a few questions about developmental needs related to multilingualism and communication. The answers to these can aid Human Resources Development in developing support measures.
Poster (PDF) "Languages on Campus"