Carl-Friedrich-Gauß Gymnasium

Finalist for the region East

Say YES! to Diversity

Hello everyone! We are Amsana, Emma-Sofie, Jonas, Nadine, Tanja and Ms König. Together, we form a team working on the YES! project concerning diversity and social cohesion in schools.

Our school has been awarded the label “Schule ohne Rassismus – Schule mit Courage” (“School Without Racism – School with Civil Courage”) but apparently only few people know about the meaning of this label and, more importantly, the reason for which we have received it. As a matter of fact, neither did the audience in the regional final whose schools have also distinguished themselves with this logo or a similar one. Furthermore, judging from our own experience and from the knowledge we have gained during our research for this project, segregation is one of the biggest issues to be tackled by schools and it is the main driving force against diversity in school life.

However, what the scientific papers we viewed and the discussions we had (with our expert Prof. Dr. C Kroneberg) revealed was that most of the attempts to counteract segregation are either highly disputed political decisions, like quota systems, or do not have the desired effect. Sometimes, e.g. with diversity training, the opposite is the case, meaning they impact schools in a negative way. Still, our expert has given us a paper dealing with “social norm messaging” tested at an American university. This system appeared to be very useful and worthwhile. It is this idea upon which we have built the solution for our project.

We wanted to create a system that allows schools to not just measure but also improve their diversity-related situation. So may we present the modular construction system which we named Say YES! to Diversity. It is also ready-to-use and we are happy to hand that out to you.

As mentioned above, it is based on social norm messaging. This scientific approach includes a first survey which reveals the students’ attitude towards diversity, integration and contacts between different communities (cultural, ethnical, religious, etc.). In most of the cases, a (what we consider) positive result will be gained from the data of this survey and even if not, at least a majority of people will express their wish to have more contact with and a higher status of diversity, as the case study in the US showed.

Such positive results constitute the social norm, which in a next step will be included in a message. In our case, we decided to create posters and put them on display in every classroom and additionally, we explained the results to the different classes.

As mentioned before, we offer you a modular system. Further expansion of this project might be possible via student/school conferences, your local school district/government district, social media accounts of your schools or organisations with certain certifications as mentioned above.

Their YES! topic

Diversity: How can schools strengthen social cohesion?

by Prof. Dr. Clemens Kroneberg (ECONtribute)

Our society is becoming increasingly diverse. Nevertheless, due to the segregated school system and residential segregation, students often experience only limited diversity in their own environment in terms of the economic situation of the parental home, ethnic origin, or political and religious worldviews (Morris-Lange et al. 2013). Schools face the challenge of practicing tolerance despite these obstacles.

We want to address the question of how schools can strengthen social cohesion. Actions within schools as well as joint actions with a selected school from another neighborhood are conceivable. It could be one idea to intensify personal contact across group boundaries to reduce prejudices (Hewstone 2009, Paluck & Green 2009). Existing programs can be improved or entirely new ones developed. It may be useful to focus on one diversity dimension (e.g. ethnicity).

In general, measures should take into account that they may also lead to undesirable side effects, which may even weaken social cohesion (al-Gharbi 2020, Dobbin & Kalev 2021).

We want to address the question of how schools can strengthen social cohesion. Actions within schools as well as joint actions with a selected school from another neighborhood are conceivable. It could be one idea to intensify personal contact across group boundaries to reduce prejudices (Hewstone 2009, Paluck & Green 2009). Existing programs can be improved or entirely new ones developed. It may be useful to focus on one diversity dimension (e.g. ethnicity).

In general, measures should take into account that they may also lead to undesirable side effects, which may even weaken social cohesion (al-Gharbi 2020, Dobbin & Kalev 2021).

Clemens Kroneberg

Photo: EconTribute

Clemens Kroneberg is Professor of Sociology at the Institute for Sociology and Social Psychology at ECONtribute at the University of Cologne. He studied social sciences at the University of Mannheim and received his doctorate there in 2009. His research interests include social networks, diversity, migration and integration.