Summary of the project

The UNESCO Chair Language Policies for Multilingualism (LPM) is a research network of universities, institutes, national committees, specialized networks and academies from different countries to generate knowledge on the different contexts of multilingualism, on the language policies developed in these contexts, and their implications for the sustainable development of citizens, linguistic communities, regions and countries. The Chair’s products – publications, events, academic mobility, training of masters and PhD students, advisory services to linguistic communities and governments – will dialogue centrally with the concept and guidelines for sustainable development, as foreseen in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (2015-30). In addition, the Chair will carry out relevant research, establishing relationships on several axes, to help the development of UNESCO policies, such as the Promotion of Multilingualism in Cyberspace, and the development of the UNESCO Atlas of the World Languages, now under way.

Domain(s) or discipline(s)

The area of research called today Multilingualism stems from efforts made in different moments and geographies, involving mainly (1) the taxonomic and cartographic concerns with the languages of the world, (2) the observation of the phenomenon of individual bilingualism and its consequences, (3) the analysis of languages in conflict and the proposal to manage of these conflicts through language planning, 4) the relationship between languages and identities, and finally, 5) the concerns on languages and education. More contemporaneously, two new concerns have further broadened the area. On the one hand the question of linguistic rights and on the other the digitalization of languages and the Internet revolution have brought to the field new concerns on access/accessibility and, at the same time, on the digital equipment of languages.

The area of Language Policy and Planning (LPP) connects the historical demands of language communities for the use of their languages with the governance needs of the States and, at the same time, with the economic needs of the Market. In this axis connecting Society, State and Market, LPP analyses the major decisions that are made about languages and how the measures to concretize these decisions are developed.

In the twenty-first century, languages are increasingly ceasing to be seen as problems and increasingly are seen as rights or, beside rights, as resources. It is with this vision of languages as resources that the Chair’s proposal established the following domains / axes for research:

(i) Multilingualism and internationalization

(ii) Multilingualism and intercultural mediation

(iii) Multilingualism and language education

(iv) Multilingualism, translation and accessibility

(v) Multilingualism, economy and linguistic rights

(vi) Multilingualism and information and communication technologies

(vii) Multilingualism, borders and diasporas

These domains allow the Chair to consider a series of projects under development in the partner universities/institutions. Each research group, therefore, pointed out in which domain it works / intends to work in the Chair, thus enabling the development of concrete projects and expertise for each axis. In this way, the Chair will be an inter- and transdisciplinary effort encompassing the humanities, technologies, economics and education, with languages and multilingualism as hubs.

Projects corresponding to UNESCO’s priorities

The document offered by the United Nations, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the world’s leaders in 2015, and described as “an Agenda of the people, by the people, and for the people,” includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets that determine the basic ways of transforming our world toward prosperity, greater economic opportunity, higher living standards, and environmental protection.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is very important, particularly for cultures and languages. This is a first-ever international development program to regard culture as a necessary condition and motive force of the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development, thus recognizing it as an essential factor of achieving the posed goals in education, urban development, environment, economic growth, and sustainable models for production, consumption and the building of peaceful and inclusive societies. In this sense, thinking about languages and their diversity is can contribute to the sustainable development of multilingual societies, protecting and valuing their citizens. The problems related to multilingualism and the protection and maintenance of languages are also human rights problems, related to UNESCO’s general goals for the millennium.

Projects corresponding to the Millennium Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals document, adopted in 2015 by the United Nations, mainly concerns a part of the economic and social rights of human beings and is intended for developing countries. In all these objectives, there are no direct references to the question of languages, but it is understood how fundamental they are to ensure the social, economic and human development of countries, especially those in need. From the national, as well as from the regional point of view, the proposed LPM Chair will contribute to sustaining and promoting human, linguistic and cultural diversity through languages and their management, aiming at the construction of intercultural dialogues that help the exchange and cooperation between peoples and institutions, in building social development for all.

The headquarters of the Chair, at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, as well as all the other partners that integrate it, develop their research and design their actions understanding their great responsibility for regional and national development, with important transnational reach, through the specialized cooperation network that it represents.

Context and justification

The UNESCO Chair Language Policies for Multilingualism is a “federation of projects”. Each Project, developed by the member institutions, will be included in one of the seven Domains/Axes as shown in the diagram below:

In a perspective of Language as a Resource, the projects will study the contexts of multilingualism (languages, behaviors, practices, etc.), and collaborate to the efforts of mapping multilingual situations, as well as analyzing the ongoing language policies in each situation. The projects help to identify to what extent languages, behaviors and linguistic practices, and also the organization of geolinguistic spaces, are connected to the sustainable development of the linguistic communities involved.


Development objective (long term)

To produce current and relevant knowledge for the understanding of the phenomenon of multilingualism in contemporary societies, together with a network of partners working in different geopolitical contexts. The main objective is to subsidize the development of projects and actions in Language Policy and Planning (LPP) of regional, national and international scope, aiming at the promotion of multilingualism and sustainable development, with impacts on education, culture, sciences, communication and information. The central thrust of the Chair’s effort will be to demonstrate, in a variety of contexts, how languages are central development factors and how language policies can positively direct or constrain this development.

Specific objectives (short-term)

-To develop a theoretical point of view on the relation between sustainable development and culture, correlating both concepts with the preservation of linguistic and cultural diversity and with the development of multilingualism.

-To contribute to the elaboration and implementation of regional, national and international policies of conservations and development of multilingualism, with the aim of contributing to the sustainable development of communities and countries in the areas of education, science, culture, communication and information.

-To discuss and promote linguistic education, preserving linguistic diversity at the regional, national and international levels, encouraging the bilingual and multilingual education, the open and online education in different languages and the social inclusion through language education.

-To create a network for the exchange of ideas and projects, as well as to promote the mobility of researchers and other agents of language policies focusing on multilingualism and its contributions to the social and cultural development of the involved countries and communities.

Visibility and expected results at the national, regional and international level

[Memos and Formal Agreements] Establishment of academic agreements between the universities / institutions participating in the Chair for strengthening of cooperation. Indicative of achievement (IA): number of formal agreements signed, at least 20 agreements;

[Fund-raising] Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) strategies for obtaining funding established, (b) financing agencies identified, (c) gradual increase in funding obtained at the regional, national and international level;

[Mobility of Researchers and Students] Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) Increasing number of professors and student exchanges;

[Organization of events] Indicative of achievement (IA): Number of events with participation/presentation of research of the Chair, (b) number of events organized by the Chair / in institutions of the Chair, (c) number of Chair’s Communications in National and International Conferences;

[Offer of joint courses] As a priority of the Chair, it is also worth mentioning the offer of courses for the learning of the languages of the Chair (Afrikaans, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, Indonesian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Telugu and Tetum), which will facilitate the movement of professors and students among research groups. Indicative of achievement (IA): a) strategies for the offering of joint course by the partner institutions, (b) number of face-to-face multi-institutional courses;

[Publications] The Chair will establish a schedule of publications in each of the indicated domains / axes. Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) and distance courses offered, (c) number of students reached by the courses, and (d) educational technologies developed for established editorial priorities and strategies, (b) number of publications, at least 30 articles published by the partner network in scientific journals in different languages per year and 1 book per year (total: approximately 120 articles and 4 books published);

[Social Communication] In order for the Chair to have better visibility and communication with the national linguistic communities of the partner institutions, we will create and maintain a webpage / blog in the languages of the Chair. The institutions of the different countries will be responsible for social communication in the respective language of the country, including the feeding of social networks. Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) social communication strategy defined, (b) Web page created and other social networks in operation, (c) increasing number of accesses and interactions with the social networks of the Chair registered;

[Strengthening graduate programs] Strengthening graduate programs depends on establishing clear research goals, as well as setting successful strategies for technology transfer of results to society. Besides the qualitative aspects contained therein, it is worth mentioning the quantitative impact that the Chair should have for the increasing involvement of professors and students of the Graduate Programs with the research about multilingualism. Many of these quantitative aspects are described in the other headings of this point 7. Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) national evaluation criteria for graduate programs identified in a general grid, (b) barema for the measurement of the impact of the Chair’s works on the evaluation of the programs established, (c) improvement of the evaluation of the programs members of the Chair, (d) at least 25 doctoral theses and 40 master’s dissertations defended;

[Cooperation with UNESCO policies and other international organizations] Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) the production of the Chair will dialogue permanently with the documentation of UNESCO and other international organizations and (b) the participation of researchers from the Chair in events organized / supported by UNESCO and other international organizations will be prioritized;

[Advice to governments, civil society and especially linguistic communities] Language Policy and Planning (LPP) is an area that provides for action on government projects and on efforts of private initiative and civil society. In the case of multilingualism, it is relevant that the Chair can advise specific linguistic communities to solve problems associated with their languages. The Chair encourages the partners not to minimize this participatory aspect of the knowledge’s production. Indicative of achievement (IA): (a) advisory’s strategies established, (b) Advisory projects offered, conducted and evaluated.