Interculturalism & History

Most of us are familiar with words like multiculturalism and diversity, but the term intercultralism may be foreign to us. Dr. Greg Tanaka, in his book The Intercultural Campus, introduces the concept of interculturalism and explains it as a way to recognize the ways in which we are all diverse; whether we are a member of a majority or minority group. Interculturalism is also about dialogue; building connections with the people around you and talking about not only the ways in which you are different, but also the ways in which you are the same.

Questions to Think About:

  • Where did your family come from? How did your ancestors arrive to the US?
  • Are there ways in which you are privileged or experience power?
  • Are there ways in which you are oppressed?
  • If you could create a world without prejudice or oppression, what would that world look like?
  • What can you do starting today to create that world?

For more information about interculturalism, read The Intercultural Campus by Dr. Greg Tanaka, available at the GVSU Library.


Intercultural Festival is a Grand Valley tradition with deep roots. What was once called Ethnic Festival has been restyled as Intercultural Festival to reflect the myriad of cultures represented in the Grand Valley community and the ways in which we are all diverse. By expanding beyond ethnicity, we can celebrate additional facets of diversity and multiculturalism, such as religion, ability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, and more.

The move towards Intercultural Festival also reflects Grand Valley's commitment to Dr. Greg Tanaka's concept of interculturalism. Tanaka argues in The Intercultural Campus that many multicultural approaches can leave white students feeling alienated. The term interculturalism reflects an approach that recognizes everyone's culture and promotes a dialogue not just about difference, but across our differences.

Intercultural Festival is based in this idea and seeks to celebrate the many diverse cultures present at Grand Valley while opening a dialogue on campus about power, privilege, and oppression. Witness the people, displays, fashion, and artwork of various cultures! Experience the rhythms, language, music, and dance of various cultures through multiple performances and/or interactive activities! Encounter the aromas of cultural dishes by visiting food vendors throughout the event! Explore the variety of different foods and tastes that represent a global society! Interact with members of the GVSU community to open communication regarding culture!

For more information, please email, or call Student Life at 616-331-2345.