Europe has experienced several waves of migration within the 20th century that have led to the establishment of multilingual communities across the continent. A large influx of migrants and refugees led to a considerable increase of multilinguals within Europe. Understanding the benefits and challenges of being multilingual is crucial for the education, wellbeing, and employment of immigrants and can impact their integration and prospects in Europe as well as the prospects of the European countries.
The mission of Multi-Mind was to seek fundamental breakthroughs in multilingualism research whilst training the new generation of researchers in world-leading labs using cutting edge methodologies and allowing them to build the necessary background and skills fostering their career progress as independent researchers in academic or non-academic sectors, in the first international, multidisciplinary, and multisectorial program on multilingualism.
MultiMind conducted fundamental research on multilingualism across disciplines in a range of different social and educational settings, including migration and refugee settings, to investigate the influence of multilingualism on language learning, cognition, creativity, and decision making, on brain function and structure, and its role as a reserve in atypical populations. These issues are of prime importance for the future construction of shared cultural, educational, and health settings across Europe. Indeed, one of the big challenges in Europe is the integration of refugees and immigrants into European states and the integration among European citizens living in different countries in Europe. Inevitably, this challenge starts and has the best chances to be won by focusing on the educational systems and on the influence that the use of languages has in daily life.
MultiMind was international in nature and federated world-leading scientists from European and non-European countries with proven expertise conducting research in specific types of multilingual populations and methodologies. To address the interplay of multilingualism with education, cognition, brain, and health it is necessary to take a multidisciplinary approach. Therefore, MultiMind was a multidisciplinary consortium comprising researchers within linguistics, psychology, education, neuroscience, and speech & language therapy. MultiMind was also a multisectorial project that included not only academic, but also non-academic beneficiaries and partners from education, health, publishing, and IT. Non-academic beneficiaries and partners provided training in evidence-based research and non-academic secondments. This enabled early stage researchers (ESRs) to put theoretical knowledge into practice, experience working within non-academic organisations and develop transferable skills and prepare ESRs for employment not only within the academia, but also in a range of other professions within the private and public sector. These organisations also benefited from the knowledge obtained from MultiMind that promised to lead to best practise for inclusive education and health. In turn, this had an impact on multilingual societies in Europe and across the globe.