Tag Archives: SDGs

CFP: Language and Development 2017

The 12th biennial Language and Development Conference (LDC) will be held in Dakar, Senegal, on 27-29 November 2017. The call for participation (CFP) deadline has been extended to 31 May (apologies as I’m just catching up on this).

The theme of this edition of the conference is: Language and the Sustainable Development Goals.

From the concept note for the conference (emphasis in original):
“Sustainable development is increasingly viewed not only from an economic perspective, but also from social and environmental perspectives. All three dimensions are important to ensure that human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality. As language and communication are crucial to how societies grow, work together and become more inclusive, the conference will seek to explore the role of language in a range of interlinking aspects of development. It will do this by focussing on three of the goals:

  • SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  • SDG 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
  • SDG 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies”

“The conference programme will also take into consideration other cross cutting goals, notably SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.”

The conference has 3 sub-themes:

  • Multilingualism for Quality, Equitable and Inclusive Education
  • Language, Skills and Sustainable Economic Growth
  • Communication, Peace and Justice

The British Council is hosting this conference (it apparently has been involved in almost all the previous ones), in partnership with le Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche et le Ministère de l’Education Nationale du Sénégal, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), UNESCO, the School of Oriental and Africa Studies (SOAS) and SIL Africa, along with others.

For additional information, see the website of the LDC series, and a posting on this blog about the 2015 LDC.


CFP: Language, the SDGs, and Vulnerable Populations

SDG logoThe Study Group on Language at the United Nations, in cooperation with the Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems and the Center for Applied Linguistics, will again this year hold a two-day symposium (11-12 May 2017) on language and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I reproduce below the call for participation (CFP) based on versions seen on the Language Policy List and Linguist List. The contact person is Prof. Humphrey Tonkin. Note the call deadline of 28 February.

This blog previously featured the CFP for the April 2016 Language & SDGs symposium and its program. The Final Report of that symposium is available on the Study Group’s site.

Language, the Sustainable Development Goals, and Vulnerable Populations

New York, NY, USA • Thursday-Friday, May 11-12, 2017

What issues of language and communication are raised, or should be raised, by the efforts of the United Nations to reach the most vulnerable populations through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the UN in 2015? Particular attention will be given to language issues surrounding refugees and their children, migrants, and minority communities.

When the UN General Assembly unanimously approved the 17 SDGs 2015-2030, proponents foresaw a comprehensive and cooperative effort extending beyond the United Nations and its Member States to incorporate civil society in general. The SDGs, they said, should “leave no one behind” and should emerge from a dialogue in which all parties collaborate in a spirit of equality. Moreover, the most vulnerable populations need to be first on the agenda.

These vulnerable populations speak a multiplicity of languages often little understood by development specialists, and they are often isolated or neglected, and unconnected to those who seek to help. Reaching them requires reaching across languages, and it implies listening to their concerns, freely expressed. Is the UN ready for such an effort? Though the SDGs are largely silent on language issues, sustainability requires two-way, democratic communication in multiple languages.

The world is witnessing the largest population movement since World War II: refugees who must be returned to their homes or resettled, displaced children who need education, migrants who must acquire new languages to become productive in new circumstances. In negotiating their way in foreign environments, they must deal with officials who often do not know their languages. The SDGs identify problems but say little about reaching these populations.

To carry out the SDGs through dialogue and understanding, we must reach vulnerable populations in languages they understand. Preserving cultural identity while communicating across languages must become a recognized issue: we must educate through languages young people understand, deliver health care comprehensibly, and reach refugees and migrants through comprehensible dialogue. Attaining all seventeen SDGs requires mutual comprehension at every level.

The Study Group on Language and the UN drew attention to the absence of language issues in formulating the SDGs through a symposium it organized in April 2016 and a subsequent report. We return to this topic in our 2017 symposium, but with special stress on vulnerable populations.

The organizers welcome proposals for 20-minute papers on topics linking the SDGs with vulnerable populations, such as:

  • Language as a factor in sustainable development
  • Language policy for refugees, migrants, and displaced populations
  • Language & migration
  • Language as it relates to race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, economic status, or other factors
  • Language & education of refugees and migrants
  • Language & quality education for vulnerable populations (Goal 4)
  • Language & mother-tongue education (Goal 4)
  • Language & gender equality (Goal 5)
  • Language & economic growth (Goal 8)
  • Language & reducing inequalities (Goal 10)
  • Language & peace & justice (Goal 16)
  • NGOs, language & vulnerable populations
  • UN language policy & implementation of the SDGs
  • The role of regional or minority languages
  • Language & stateless nations

Please send proposals (200 words or less, accompanied by a biography of approximately 50 words) to the chair of the symposium organizing committee, Prof. Humphrey Tonkin, at tonkin (at) hartford (dot) edu, by February 28, 2017.  The committee expects to make final decisions on the program by March 15.


Language and the SDGs, 21-22 April 2016

Having previously noted the CFP for the Language and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) symposium to be held in New York on 21-22 April 2016, this is a quick reminder that registration for the event is still open.

For reference the provisional program is copied below (NB- the keynote speaker, Suzanne Romaine, was not on that version when checked on 4/12). Hyperlinks added; any errors are mine and not the fault of the seminar organizers.


Thursday-Friday, April 21-22, 2016

Church Center for the United Nations, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York

Sponsored by:


Thursday, April 21

8:30-9:15. Registration and coffee


Humphrey Tonkin (University of Hartford, USA).  Language: The missing dimension

Timothy Reagan (University of Maine, USA).  Language rights and the SDGs

Kurt Müller (National Defense University, USA).  Organization, targeting, and assumptions in foreign assistance

Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis (Birkbeck, University of London, UK).  The forgotten goal – Goal 18: Building sustainable knowledge societies by addressing linguistic and digital divides through global partnerships.

10:50-11:00. BREAK

11:00-12:30. SUSTAINABILITY Chair, Kurt Müller.

Katalin Buzasi (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands). Languages and the sustainable development goals – What do we know and how to go on?

Carla Bagna & Andrea Scibetta (Università per Stranieri, Siena, Italy). Language as a factor in sustainable development: Language to reduce inequalities

Laurence Jay-Rayon & Amy R. Tuininga (Montclair State University, USA). Sustainability is a conversation

Alicia Fuentes Calle (LINGUAPAX International). Pax Linguistica and the preservation of linguistic diversity revisited.

12:30-1:10. LUNCH

1:10-1:40. Language, literacy, employability and income in the US Sarah Catherine K. Moore (CAL: Center for Applied Linguistics), Molly Fee (University of California Los Angeles), Terrence G. Wiley (CAL), and M. Beatriz Arias (CAL).

1:40-2:50. LITERACY Chair, Terrence Wiley.

John Comings (World Education). Mother tongue reading instruction: Language and mother tongue education (Goal 4)

Carol Deshano da Silva (Save the Children). The successes and challenges of Save the Children US in planning and implementing reading and writing programs in linguistically diverse contexts

Alison Pflepsen (RTI International). Improving educational quality through improved literacy instruction.

2:50-3:00 BREAK

3:00-3:50. EDUCATION 1. Chair, Timothy Reagan.

Theo Du Plessis & Colleen Du Plessis (University of the Free State, South Africa). Realising inclusive and equitable quality education in South Africa: Contributions and obstacles in language in education.

Shereen Bhalla (Center for Applied Linguistics). Examining language and the role of mother-tongue education through the three-language formula of India.

3:50-5:00. LANGUAGE AND INCLUSION (Goals 4 and 10) Chair, João Pedro Marinotti (City University of New York, Graduate Center, USA)

Antonio Bardawil (New York University, USA), Leveling linguistic playing fields to reduce inequalities: How language factors into Goal 10

Cassondra Puls and Mackenzie Lawrence (International Rescue Committee), Balancing social inclusion and educational inclusion among displaced learners: The work of the International Rescue Committee

Kathleen McGovern (University of Massachusetts, USA), Dialogic practice in the language classroom: Valuing learners’ voices as a means of working towards the SDGs

Jennifer C. Hamano, Christen N. Madsen II, and Gita Martohardjono (Second Language Acquisition Lab, CUNY Graduate Center, USA): Language assessment for sustainable development

Friday, April 22

8:30-9:00. Registration and coffee

9:00. Opening comments


10:45-10:55. BREAK

10:55-11:25. Rosemary Salomone (St. John’s University, USA). Educational equity, SDG’s & commodification of English

11:25-12:35. CORE ISSUES. Chair, Rosemary Salomone.

Dragana Radosavljevic (University of Greenwich, UK). Interpreting and translation in international criminal law

Aneta Pavlenko (Temple University, USA). You have the right to remain silent, do you understand?

Alison Phipps (University of Glasgow, UK). Languages under duress.

12:35-1:15 LUNCH 

1:15-1:45. Carolyn Benson (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA). Documenting international progress in addressing language issues in education

1:45-2:55. EDUCATION 2. Chair, Carolyn Benson.

Francis M. Hult (Lund University, Sweden), Christine Glanz (UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning), and Ulrike Hanemann (UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning). Multilingual literacy and the SDG for quality education

Mark E. Karan & Elke Karan (SIL International). The use of non-dominant languages In primary education: The key to maximizing learning outcomes for learners who speak these languages

Marguerite Lukes (International Network for Public Schools). Language acquisition & immigrant young adults with interrupted schooling.

2:55-3:05 BREAK

3:05-4:15. THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS. Chair, Humphrey Tonkin.

– María Barros & Ana García Álvarez (Spanish Translation Service, United Nations, New York). Translation of SDGs: A tool for their implementation?

– Muhammed Raeez (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India). Arabic at the United Nations

Kathleen Stein-Smith (American Association of Teachers of French). The role of multilingualism in the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN Academic Impact).

4:15-4:25. Concluding comments by Sean O Riain (Ireland), Language and the SDGs: An Irish-language perspective.

4:25-5:00 Wrap-up and Close


CFP: Language and the SDGs

An upcoming symposium in New York on 21-22 April 2016 will address “Language and the Sustainable Development Goals.” This offers an  opportunity to address specific aspects of the importance of languages in international development.

The following call for papers is copied from the website of the Study Group on Language and the United Nations which is organizing the symposium along with the Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems and the Center for Applied Linguistics. Note the deadline of 15 February. (Minor formatting changes.)

Call for Papers:

A Symposium on Language and the Sustainable Development Goals

on Thursday & Friday, April 21 & 22, 2016

at the Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017

(First Avenue at 44th Street), Thurs. 1:00-5:00; Fri. 9:15-5:00

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals approved by the United Nations General Assembly for the period 2015-2030 (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/) replace the eight Millennium Development Goals that covered the period 2000-2015. They aim to engage not only governments, but “all people, everywhere,” at all levels of civil society. Carrying them out will require active, two-way, democratic communication, in a multiplicity of languages. Furthermore, several of the Goals imply direct attention to issues of language. Study and research on language in relation to economic and social development is a well-established field. What does this field have to contribute to the realization of the SDGs? What linguistic obstacles stand in the way of their successful realization?

The organizers welcome proposals for brief 20-minute papers on topics linked to the SDGs, such as:

  • Language as a factor in sustainable development
  • Language as a factor in the realization of the SDGs
  • Language revival and maintenance in relation to the SDGs
  • Language and quality education (Goal 4)
  • Language and mother-tongue education (Goal 4)
  • Language and gender equality (Goal 5)
  • Language and economic growth (Goal 8)
  • Language and reduced inequalities (Goal 10)
  • Language and peace & justice (Goal 16)
  • Cooperation in the fulfilment of the SDGs (Goal 17)
  • NGOs and language policy in relation to the SDGs
  • UN language policy and the SDGs

Please send proposals (200 words or less, accompanied by an approximately 50-word biography) to the chair of the symposium organizing committee, Prof. Humphrey Tonkin, at tonkin [at] hartford [dot] edu, by February 15, 2016. The committee expects to make final decisions on the program by March 1.

Online Registration Form for the Symposium

Event Documents for the Symposium