EuroClio Welcomes New Board, Member Organizations

During the General Assembly, held at the 23rd EuroClio Annual Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, EuroClio member organizations elected two new board members. Sinead Fitzsimons was elected board member, while Frank van den Akker was elected financial advisor to the Board. The Association bids farewell to president Marjan de Groot-Reuvekamp, secretary Semih Aktekin, Peder Wiben and financial advisor Erwin Capitain. The Board, in its new composition, elected Lóa Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir as president. Mire Mladenovski was elected vice president, while he also retains his position as treasurer. Paolo Ceccoli now holds the position of secretary, and Riitta Mikkola retains her position as board member.

On behalf of the EuroClio family we would like to sincerely thank the outgoing board members for their tremendous efforts and for the important work they have done over the past years! - EuroClio Director Jonathan Even-Zohar

New member organizations

In addition to new board members, the General Assembly also approved the application for membership of The School of Creative Teachers and Education for the 21st Century. EuroClio is looking forward to establishing a solid cooperation between EuroClio, its member organizations and these two new members.

Remembering Belfast

EuroClio Association

During the 23rd Annual Conference "Reimagining Remembrance" (19-24 March 2016), participants from around 30 countries gathered in Belfast to learn and discuss about the role of history education and commemoration in creating a more peaceful society today, and the challenges history educators face when teaching about a difficult past. Especially the topic of the centenary year 2016 (100 years after the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme) provided enough discussion material for the speakers and participants to reflect upon concerning history education and remembrance in the specific case of Northern Ireland.

The first evening started off with a series of lectures about the history of Belfast and the Northern Irish education system, followed by a welcoming reception for all participants. On 20 March the conference took place in Ulster Museum and consisted of lectures and discussions about the role of commemoration and the role of artists, civil society and museums in dealing with the past. In the afternoon the participants visited the Belfast Murals. This visit made a big impression on everyone, since it took us to the area of Belfast where the impact of the recent past is still most visible.

Monday 21 March was the busiest day of the conference. In Queens University participants enjoyed speeches, keynotes and panel discussions about the role of history education and the role of the international community in dealing with a difficult past and its influence on society today, including a speech by Minister of Education John O’Dowd. In the afternoon several participants lead workshops about all kinds of subjects in relation to the topics discussed earlier that day. The evening was finished off with a dinner at Titanic Belfast, where a toast was held to the initiative for a History Teachers’ Association of Northern Ireland.

The next day was another exciting day, as the participants got to explore other parts of Northern Ireland a bit more. Separated in two groups we visited the Nerve Centre in Derry and Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle, two very different but both inspiring organizations which focus on new creative tools for history education and on reconciliation with the past. The day ended with a dinner in the beautiful Belfast Castle, overlooking Belfast.

The yearly visit to local schools took place on 23 March, with the addition of also visits to the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, and the Public Records Office. All groups were warmly received by the different educational institutes. In the afternoon another round of workshops took place, followed in the evening by the yearly traditional Pub Quiz! Made by the local Northern Irish organizers, this year was once again a challenge for all participants to test their knowledge!

The final day of the conference consisted of the General Assembly, with as one of the highlights the election of 2 new Board Members: Frank van den Akker and Sinead Fitzsimons. The day finished with a round of Discussion Tables, where participants reflected on some interesting topics which had been part of the conference. The last day ended with a Gala Dinner in the beautiful and historic Belfast City Hall. All in all we can look back at a very successful EuroClio Annual Conference!

Panel Discussion: “What Role for International Community in Developing History?” #euroclio2016AC

On the third day of the 23rd EuroClio Annual Conference, a panel discussion focused on the role of the international community in developing history as a means to promote peace and understanding in conflict areas and divided societies. The panel was led by EuroClio Director Jonathan Even-Zohar and Head of History Teaching Unit of the Council of Europe, Tatiana Milko. The panelists were: Emir Filipovic, history educator from Bosnia-Herzegovina; Dea Maric, project coordinator at Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past; and Samuel Lee, Professor of Social Philosophy and representative of the History NGO Forum for Peace in East Asia. History educator Khaled El-Masri, representative of the Lebanese Association for History, was also supposed to take part in the discussions, but unfortunately his visa request was rejected by the United Kingdom visa authorities. In a message relayed to the attendants by Jonathan Even-Zohar, El-Masri commented about the rejection: “I pay the price for what’s happening around my home country, Lebanon.”

In the introduction to the panel, Tatiana Milko from the Council of Europe noted that initially people were very skeptical of the role of history education in promoting peace and understanding. However, when it comes to solving military conflicts, there is of course an important role for international organizations such as the Council of Europe or the European Union. Milko pointed out that problems not only arise in military conflicts, but also in frozen conflicts, mentioning examples of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Caucasus.

According to Emir Filipovic, the international community positively influenced the development of textbooks in his country, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although a unified curriculum does not exist at this time, history teachers’ association EuroClio-HIP is working on multiplying textbooks and removing offensive language.

Connections throughout divided societies

Filipovic also mentioned that there are a lot of similarities between the centenaries of Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina, stating: “There are so many issues that connect us throughout the world in these divided societies!”

However, differences exist as well, Professor Samuel Lee said. “Both Europe and Asia have gone through hardships. However, Europe has successfully gone through reconciliation and lives togheter. Whereas, in East Asia historical conflicts have not been truly solved but instead worsened. The European Cold War has more or less been overcome. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall came a peaceful cooperation. On the contrary, in North and South Korea there is no reconciliation.”

“Conflicts are ethnically driven but also the narratives are ethnically shaped,” Dea Maric from Documenta said. In addition, history education tends to perceive itself as the only view that matters and is correct. Documenta, she continued, has a number of programmes dealing with these problematic issues: Documenting Human Losses, Personal Memories of War, and Public Dialogue and Education for Dealing with the Past. Especially the latter was controversial due to its multi-perspective approach.

“Is history teaching part of the problem or the solution?” Emir Filipovic asked himself. “History education can be an antidote to the poison, but history educators sometimes don’t dare to change.” Sometimes we have to make a sacrifice in order to create change, Filipovic concluded.

Education Minister John O’Dowd Addresses #euroclio2016AC

On 21 March, the Minister of Education of the Northern Ireland Executive addressed the 23rd EuroClio Annual Conference “Reimagining Remembrance”. The Minister welcomed local and international delegates of the conference on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive:

I am delighted that EuroClio chose Belfast as the venue for this year’s conference. The theme is particularly relevant for schools in the North this year, given that the spring and summer of 2016 will see two important events being commemorated locally, the Easter Rising and the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Both events have shaped cultural and political attitudes here and I am sure delegates will have much to share on how we encourage all our young people to appreciate the historical and contemporary significance of the events that took place one hundred years ago.

During his speech Minister O’Dowd also mentioned efforts of his department to reform curricula and provide new educational resources in Northern Ireland: “I commissioned the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to prepare a ‘1916 Mutual Understanding’ programme for schools. This is now available and will provide teachers with curricular support and materials to enable them to explore the history and legacy of the events we are marking this year.” O’Dowd stressed that in order to implement the curricula, “we have to rely on the professionalism of our teachers.”

The Ministry of Education has launched a campaign titled “Education Works” to help parents get involved in their children’s education.

Watch the speech below:

Keynote Speaker Tony Gallagher: “Engage More Critically with World Outside Classroom” #euroclio2016AC

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Tony Gallagher, Professor of Education delivered a keynote speech at the 23rd EuroClio Annual Conference “Reimagining Remembrance” currently taking place in Belfast, Northern Ireland. During his presentation (available for download in .pdf below), Mr. Gallagher discussed the role of education systems in a divided society, while presenting the case of Northern Ireland. He stressed that history education should “engage more critically and effectively with what is taught outside the classroom.”

Local and global issues exist in parallel and not enough connections are being made.

In his speech, Mr. Gallagher posed some very important questions that history education nowadays encounter like “Should minorities be entitled to institutional recognition?” and “Is pursuit of tolerance a core goal?” Furthermore, he discussed the differences, features and (dis)advantages of separate versus common schools. Subsequently, he described the development of history and citizenship education in Northern Ireland.

His overall conclusion was threefold: we should support the engagement of difficult issues, promote critical learning communities, and we should learn from other contexts, while developing our own solutions.


Day 1 and 2: “What History Emerges From a Decade of Centenaries?” #euroclio2016AC

On Saturday 19 March, the 23rd EuroClio Annual Conference “Reimagining Remembrance” started in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That first afternoon at the Welcoming Ceremony, opening statements were made by EuroClio President Marjan de Groot-Reuvekamp, Director Jonathan Even-Zohar, Alan McCully, Senior Lecturer in Education at Ulster University, and Robert Heslip, Culture and Heritage Officer of the Belfast City Council. Afterwards, Carmel Callagher, Registrar General of the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), presented a SWOT-analysis on the history of education in Northern Ireland. During the evening, an icebreaking session was held, where all participants had the opportunity to meet the delegates while enjoying a warm buffet with snacks. The venue of the opening day was the Lanyon Building at Queen’s University.

The central question and theme of the second day, Sunday 20 March, of the conference was “What History Emerges From a Decade of Centenaries?” At the Ulster Museum, the participants were welcomed by Paddy Gilmore, Director of Learning and Partnership, and Fiona Baird, Learning Officer of the National Museums Northern Ireland/Ulster Museum. Bob Stradling, Editor-in-Chief of Historiana and Steven Stegers, EuroClio Programme Director, presented the Historiana progress. Afterwards, Eamon Phoenix, Senior Lecturer in History of Stranmillis College, discussed the question “How have commemorations sustained tensions?”, followed by historian Philip Orr, presenting the question “What does 1916 mean for 2016 and beyond?” with discussants Alan McCully and Joke van der Leeuw-Roord (Special Advisor to EuroClio).

The second part of the morning session had room for two discussions. First, a discussion panel consisting of various museum educators, artist and civil society representatives was chaired by Martin Melarkey, Nerve Centre Director. The panel touched upon the following questions: How to bridge the gap what should be remembers? How do museums, civil society and artists deal with the past and present? Second, a view of the Nerve Centre Short Movies was shown, afterwards discussed by William Blair, the Head of Human History of the National Museums of Northern Ireland/Ulster Museum and Paula McFetridge, an artist, at the Kabosh Theatre.

After the lunch break, the conference departed from the Ulster Museum for a thematic tour around the Belfast murals in parallel groups, led by local historians. The guided tour was the end of the programme and Sunday and the participants enjoyed a free evening afterwards.

For more information and updates, follow our Conference Blog!

23rd Annual Conference Kicks Off: “Belfast is a Place of Diversity, Not of Dichotomy.”

On Saturday, March 19, EuroClio President Marjan de Groot-Reuvekamp opened the 23rd EuroClio Annual Conference “Reimagining Remembrance: Dealing with the Legacy of a Violent Past in History and Heritage Education” currently being held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Opening statements were also delivered by Director Jonathan Even-Zohar, Senior Lecturer in Education at Ulster University Alan McCully and Culture and Heritage Officer of the Belfast City Council Robert Heslip.

Belfast is a place of diversity, not of dichotomy.

—Robert Heslip, Culture and Heritage Officer, Belfast City Council

The conference will continue through Thursday March 24. During the conference, keynotes, workshops, on-site learning and school visits focus on the roles, impact and challenges of the decade’s historical and contemporary importance and to reflect on remembering and commemorating the difficult past presents particular challenges in the reconciliation process for governments, civil society and history educators.

Follow the Conference Blog for more!

Belfast Calling! #euroclio2016AC

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The 23rd edition of the EuroClio Annual Conference is just four days away! The conference will realize its ambition of reaching out to more than 170 educators from more than 30 different countries all over the world throughout different days at the conference. Below you can find the conference booklet, which will guide you through interesting and varied themes, speakers, lectures, workshops and cultural and on-site learning programmes.

Keep informed by following the live updates from the conference via the hashtag #euroclio2016AC and at the project page.