"As the world gets smaller, people with different cultural backgrounds reside in local communities all over Europe. Globalisation is bringing about a new society which consequently needs a new public leadership discourse. What kind of public leadership qualities do we need to create sustainable communities where we can all co-exist?" asks doctoral researcher Pascal Tshibanda from Sweden.
"I see my research as an exciting opportunity to inquire at the intersection of multiple disciplines, to help shape the future public leadership in Sweden, and perhaps even beyond", he says.
Pascal works as Head of Public Relations in the Swedish civil service and believes that the systemic lens, the mind shift from an instrumental and mechanical view to a relational view, offered at University of Bedfordshire is key to develop sustainable communities.
The context underpinning Pascal Tshibanda’s research project is the need to understand and respond to the challenges generated by Sweden’s transition from a homogeneous to a diverse society. "I live in a rural town with far more than a hundred different nationalities who speaks more than 150 different languages. When I was born there were only a handful from overseas countries living here."
"My research at University of Bedfordshire is also an endeavour to combat stigmatisation of 'The Other' - the immigrants and the refugees - and contribute to cohesion in a community rapidly transforming from homogeneity to hyperdiversity."
In the last decades Swedish communities have become more diverse due to the country’s hitherto generous asylum regime. Sweden takes a clear lead and last year the country was the highest per capita recipient of asylum seekers in both the EU and OECD.
The majority of the Swedes are still in favour of a generous asylum regime. But Sweden is also experiencing the clashing lifestyles, conflicts between ethnic groups as well as anti-refugee vigilantism, racial harassment and discrimination. Pascal believes this calls for a new public leadership discourse grounded in systemic theory.
"I am vigorously and heartily supported by two brilliant supervisors, Professor Ravi Kohli and Doctor Helen Connolly. Their support and encouragement is pivotal since I am a part-time researcher in systemic practice at the Institute of Applied Social Research", concludes Pascal Tshibanda.