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Dealing with the Legacy of a Violent Past in History and Heritage Education

Societies which have experienced conflict and reached a peace accord have difficulty in moving from “negative” to “positive” peace. Often remembering and commemorating the difficult past presents particular challenges in the reconciliation process for governments, civil society and history educators. Northern Ireland is no exception to this.

This conference will take place close to Easter, 2016. In the spring and summer of that year two important events are being commemorated locally, the Easter Rising and the first day of the Battle of the Somme, both of which, subsequently, have helped shape cultural and political attitudes in Northern Ireland.

These occasions can be exclusive and therefore cause community tensions but there is also the potential to re-examine their significance from a wider range of perspectives including the present and, thereby, re-imagine the contribution this deeper understanding might make to building a transformative peace. Participants attending the conference would have the opportunity to engage with the on-going debate within civil society as to how best these events might be handled, to experience educational initiatives to help young people better understand the Decade’s historical and contemporary importance and to reflect on how similar events are remembered in their own countries.

The conference aims to explore the question of “How to teach controversial history in a responsible manner” through a highly (inter)active and engaging programme with workshops, dialogue tables, open spaces, on-site study visits, public debate and reflective and interactive panels. The conference will provide a platform of intercultural exchange in which the participants will actively learn, share best practices and network. These and more questions on the environment of the history educator in 21st century will be the points to peer-learn on 6 full course days at a Unique International Conference.

Extra Information

AimsExpected Outcomes

  • To engage in a Europe-wide debate on the experience of Northern Ireland civil society as to how sensitive events should be remembered.
  • To compare and contrast the experiences of Northern Ireland as well as other countries across Europe and beyond on teaching sensitive history in a divided society and adopting different approaches in applying the historical process to sensitive events from the past.
  • To share educational initiatives which help young people better understand the 1912-22 decade’s historical and contemporary importance and to reflect on how similar events are remembered in their own countries.
  • To exchange innovative tools, methods and professional knowledge with all other Educators in Europe to aid teaching locally and in their own countries.
  • To develop a common understanding of innovative and responsible history education as a bridge foreducation for reconciliation, peace education, intercultural education and human rights education.
  • To disseminate and explore implementation of innovative history teaching resources and guidelines produced by national, international, NGO’s and intergovernmental organisations.
  • To transform the shared experiences of integrated and cross-border history education in diverse societies into tangible guidelines for European educators and policy-makers.
  • To explore the role of local (educational) authorities in bridging cultural/historical viewpoints in divided societies taking the example of the city of Belfast.
  • To strengthen synergies between EuroClio and history educators in Northern Ireland in order to establish and build the capacity of History Teachers’ Association of Northern Ireland.

History, Heritage and Citizenship Educators are encouraged to take part in this unique International Training Course, as it aims to achieve for individuals the following outcomes:

  • Increased participation and dialogue in European Community of History Educators.
  • Raised awareness of cultures and identities through field trips, and reflection on the teaching of history across Europe.
  • Access to new partnerships, including schools, local, regional, national and international educational authorities and institutes in different fields and sectors.
  • Recognition of developed competences in history education through lifelong learning in the international context.
  • Access to innovative history education tools from across Europe with a focus on education for peace.
  • Improved English-language competence through facilitated and engaged dialogues.
  • Understanding the challenges related to dealing with public commemoration in divided societies.
  • Conference report for wider dissemination, including educational resources, and academic papers.



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