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IRUAS Conference 2023 – Switzerland’s multicultural society: an opportunity, a challenge or both?

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Zurich University of Teacher Education (PHZH) jointly hosted the IRUAS Conference 2023 in Winterthur, which took place from 26 to 27 January 2023.

The IRUAS Conference 2023 was dedicated to the overarching theme of “Internationalisation at home” and addressed the following question: “Switzerland’s multicultural society:  an opportunity, a challenge or both?” Switzerland is a small country with great cultural and linguistic diversity. This diversity extends far beyond the country’s official national languages and the so-called “Röstigraben” that signifies the boundary between the German-speaking and French-speaking parts of Switzerland. Instead, it takes on a life of its own and evolves in response to a wide range of factors, ranging from expats who have chosen to settle in Switzerland to refugees fleeing their homes. Intercultural skills are therefore essential for living and working together – not only at an international level, but also directly on our own doorstep.

At the IRUAS Conference 2023, we delved into the questions that this situation throws up. To what extent can Switzerland’s multicultural society serve as an opportunity and resource for teaching international and intercultural skills at home and providing corresponding training? How is this diversity reflected at our universities – and in what way do we use it? What challenges do we have to face in connection with a multicultural society? And what tasks should universities take on in this context? The IRUAS Conference 2023 invited the participants to reflect on these and other questions, discuss the associated opportunities and challenges and share experiences and best practices.


The IRUAS Conference 2023 was held at the ZHAW in Winterthur, at the School of Architecture, Design and Civil Engineering based at the university’s City Centre campus.

Albert Frey Building (MA/MC/MD), Tössfeldstrasse 11, 8401 Winterthur (map)(PDF 2,1 MB)

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