Why do we learn history? Why do we need it? Some would say that history – and how it’s understood by each one of us – can spark the flames of war. Most who study history realise that it is key to freeing us from misunderstandings, misconceptions, and manipulations. How history is taught matters.

The Observatory on History Teaching in Europe (OHTE) has a mission to provide a clear picture of how history is taught. This year, it dedicates its 3rd Annual Conference to the question “Teaching history, teaching peace?”, with numerous high-level panelists – including a talk by Timothy GARTON ASH renowned historian and Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford.

2023 is also a decisive year for the OHTE, insofar as its first General Report on the State of History Teaching in Europe, which aims to present the different ways and practices in this area implemented in the OHTE member states, will be presented at the 3rd Annual Conference. The presentation of the OHTE General Report is all the more important and symbolic as it comes at a time when history and its teaching are subject to numerous controversies, attempts at manipulation and abuse orchestrated by anti-democratic forces or motivated by political agendas, and outside any framework of critical thinking or desire to preserve democratic and humanist values. The most striking example of these abuses is, of course, the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, one of the justifications for which is the denial of Ukraine’s own history and its existence as an independent nation.

To ensure that these practices do not develop or become commonplace, and that peace is guaranteed, we need to question and observe the way in which history is taught and learn from past mistakes to avoid repeating them. How many hours should be allocated to teaching history? What tools are available to history teachers? What content is being taught to the future generations? Are they sufficiently trained to develop their critical thinking skills and understand the challenges of democracy and peace?

A press conference dedicated to the first OHTE General Report will take place on 30 November at 12h45, with the participation of Timothy Garton Ash, historian, professor of European Studies at Oxford University, Alain Lamassoure, Chair of the OHTE Governing Board and Aurora Ailincai, Executive Director of the OHTE. The press conference will take place in person and online. All journalists wishing to participate in the briefing in person, to receive the link to the online press conference, and/or to receive the report under embargo, please send your request to accreditation@press.coe.int.

The 3rd OHTE Annual Conference will therefore be an opportunity for each participant and speaker to consider the place of history teaching in their country and in Europe as a whole, and discuss the link between history teaching and the teaching of peace in light of our past experiences, particularly at a time when peace is under threat.

Full programme
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If you have any questions or need assistance with the registration process, please don’t hesitate to contact the OHTE Secretariat.