According to geographical, cultural and ethnic reality, this archipelago is inhabited by hundreds of tribes with diverse cultures and different beliefs and religions. This fact encourages the pioneers of independence in the era of struggle idealization to hold that a nation is a group of people who have the same historical background, fate, goals and ideals. This formulation unites all the tribes in Indonesia as a nation. Moreover, this is the formula that empirically managed to bring the Indonesian nation to the gate of independence (Soemitro, 1994: 32).
Viewing through the historical approaches of Indonesian society – most of which are the elements of the Indonesian nation today, can provide a logical understanding of the plural and heterogeneous conditions of this society. History records that the archipelago that has now become the territory of the State of the Republic of Indonesia has the arrival of human beings – which not only differ in ethnic dimensions but also races from several parts of the world. The human groups have certainly played a major role in asserting that Indonesia is a plural and heterogeneous country in the field of culture (I Gde Semadi Astra, 2010: 253).
These conditions make Indonesia a nation with a very strong multicultural character. In the Indonesian concept, diversity is identified as the wealth of the nation, but in fact the diversity is sometimes also a threat of disintegration of the nation that must be wary of all elements of the nation. This fact indicates that it is not easy to maintain unity amidst cultural diversity, and it needs strategic efforts to deal with the various problems that arise in the life of the nation.
The role of culture in the reformation era faces challenges related to its function as the awareness of “sense of belonging and nationalism” (Wiriatmadja, 2002: viii). The values contained in the regional culture are expected to shape the character of the community in each region to be stronger and more advanced in the frame of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, not to be a tool of disunity among fellow citizens. To realize this, a systematic awareness effort through the world of education is certainly needed.
A congruent state management system with a plurality of nationalities is a country-friendly management of diversity, which places diversity as the foundation for building a “nation state”. The state has a very big role in the effort to establish “moral precepts” for its citizens, namely positive perceptions of the nation’s cultural diversity. It is this moral teaching which will bring about a full cultural awareness as a nation with a thick plurality of features. In terms of how perceptions of culture are formed, at least the moral teachings instilled as an ideological system by the state will also colorize the perceptions.
The establishment of a fine Indonesian multicultural society cannot be taken for granted or through trial and error. Instead, it must be pursued systematically, programmatically, integrated and sustainable, and even it needs acceleration. One of the important strategies in accelerating it is multicultural education that is run through all educational institutions, both formal and non-formal, and even informal in the wider community (Azyumardi Azra, 2011: 20).
Multicultural values need to be continually reviewed and transformed into educational practice, scientific development, especially social science, and regional development including wetland environment. In this effort, the Department of Social Science Education considers it necessary to conduct an activity in an effort to respond to national upheavals related to multiculturalism in the eyes of academic, especially in the scope of educational and social disciplines. In addition, as an actualization of the institutional vision, the multicultural study is also expected to be relevant to the objective conditions of Kalimantan, especially in the wetland environment.
Based on the aforementioned background, Social Science Education Major at Faculty of Teacher Training and Education Universitas Lambung Mangkurat is going to conduct the 1st International Conference on Social Science Education 2017 on “Multicultural Transformation in Education, Social Sciences and Wetland Environment”.