Projects
September 2006 / February 2011

Sustainable Development in a Diverse World - SUS.DIV

SUS.DIV focuses on the relationship between cultural diversity and sustainable development. Its main objective is to provide society and polity with the instruments required to manage cultural diversity as a key element of the strategy towards sustainable development...

SUS.DIV focuses on the relationship between cultural diversity and sustainable development. Its main objective is to provide society and polity with the instruments required to manage cultural diversity as a key element of the strategy towards sustainable development. SUS.DIV intends to bring together the excellence that is currently scattered around Europe and to establish durable relations outside Europe. It does so by carrying out interdisciplinary and cross-country research towards a better understanding of:

  • Cultural assets and how their diversity contributes to human welfare;
  • The dynamics of cultural diversity on the world scene;
  • Cultural dialogue as a key mechanism through which diversity may lead to knowledge creation and social capital;


SUS.DIV counts 40 Institutes located within and outside Europe and shows a wide disciplinary coverage (economics, sociology, anthropology, architecture, linguistic, etc). SUS.DIV is coordinated by FEEM under the scientific lead of K.U.Leuven.

Main Results and Outputs

In over 5 years of activities SUS.DIV has achieved important, tangible results. The first year was devoted to establishing cohesion in a group that counted more than 100 researchers with different approaches to cultural diversity. This effort resulted in a series of papers that positioned diversity research according to specific research perspectives. A series of complementary and forward-looking strategic papers laid down the research plan for the following years. 

Each Research Task has then developed independent yet interlinked research projects that investigate cultural diversity and its impact in specific domains: cities, economic growth and innovation, artistic settings, teams and organisations, public spheres, etc. FEEM produced a paper on “Diversity in European regions” that provides an econometric analysis of the effects of ethnic diversity on the economic performance of European provinces, measured in terms of wages and land rents. A key result is that not only diversity is correlated with higher wages, but a causal relation running from diversity to higher productivity shows.

The network has published the Book on “The Sustainability of Cultural Diversity. Nations, Cities and Organisations” (Janssens M., Bechtoldt M., de Ruijter A., Pinelli D., Prarolo G. and Stenius V. eds, Edward Elgar, 2010),  which addresses the processes and conditions under which diversity is sustainable. Other outputs include the Research Manifesto on Sustainability and Diversity and the Policy Letter providing policy lessons for the decision-makers.

Over the years SUS.DIV has also opened its boundaries to institutes located in Australia (Unversity of Australia), Latin America (CIPCA in Bolivia), and the US (University of Illinois at Chicago) and India (Central Institute of Indian Languages).

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