Connecting Europe through History: Introduction
Interpreting key moments in the story of European human rights
Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are universally associated with Europe as core values, and today they also form core values of the European Union, and the Council of Europe, and of course the United Nations. Developing an understanding of basic human rights, and what it means to respect them, are therefore both key elements of current education in Europe and also across the world.
This project aimed first aims to develop a range of aspects of human rights education over the year through a series of lectures, workshops, meetings, seminars, and an international survey. Its key features are captured in its title, “Human Rights in Europe? Tolerance, Democracy, Citizenship, Critical thinking and Multi-perspectivity as European Values”. A second aim was to track key-moments and documents in European history, in different regions, to be used by history teachers in secondary schools in particular in delivering and promoting Human Rights history education. Third, the project aimed to develop both a range of national and international perspectives to allow comparative awarness and multi-perspectivity. Fourth, the year long project also uniquely perhaps aimed to ‘close the gap’ between schools and universities by pitching academics and teachers together, to pool resources and to support each other in their joint endeavours to enthuse European youngsters to study and enjoy history.
In all, 23 separate events – conferences, seminars, lectures, and debates – were organised at member institutes of both the two organising partners, the Europaeum and EUROCLIO. These included prominent universities, civil society organisations and NGO’s located across Europe. At many of these events, prominent historians and researchers from Europaeum’s academic network were invited to meet with civil society representatives from the wide network of EUROCLIO History Teachers Associations.
These events were held in many countries, right across Europe – from North to South, West to East, including EU members and neighbouring states such as Croatia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Macedonia and Ukraine. A wide range of crucial topics were developed, from The Role of Women in 19th Century discussed in Croatia, to Civil Liberties in 20th Century in Bulgaria; from The Meanings of Political Concepts in Europe even to The French Revolution from Ukraine’s Perspective. All these events were related to the overarching theme of Human Rights, and each strived to act as a ‘bridge builder’, both on a national and international basis between Secondary and Higher Education professionals and academics.
Over the year, a variety of outcomes emerged including new information about turning points, about themes, the collection of views and the development of new national and cross-national perspectives. These are outlined in detail in the report’s concluding section.
Working across Europe in both so-called East and West, and across the EU but also in its neighbours, greatly enhanced the quality and internationalness of the project and all partners gained from multi-perspectives which were collated and shared at the main Hague conference. It was possible to sense the ‘march’ from the Enlightenment period towards modern current democracy models. The range of organisations involved also allowed achievement of the second aim is to diminish the existing gaps in history education between the academic history and school history education.
1961 to 1989 – the Berlin Wall goes up and down
To achieve these aims, the Europaeum and EUROCLIO worked with the following associations and organizations all over Europe.
The Europaeum network drew in the following hosting university institutes providing expert speakers as well as student and academic participants:
- Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
- Helsingin Yliopisto, Helsinki, Finland
- Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
- Leiden University, The Netherlands
- Oxford University, Great Britain
- Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany
- Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Portugal
- Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
- Univerzita Karlova V Praze, Czech Republic
- Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France
The EUROCLIO network drew in the following partner associations organising and hosting activities and inviting members to participate:
- Association of History Teachers in Wales
- Association of Czech History Teachers, Czech Republic
- Association of Slovenian History Teachers, Slovenia
- Asociación Española de Profesores de Historia y Geografía, Spain
- Associação de Professores de História – APH, Portugal
- Bulgarian History Teachers Association, Bulgaria
- Danish History Teachers Association, Denmark
- EESTI AJALOOÕPETAJATE SELTS, Estonia
- EUROCLIO UDI, Serbia
- EUROCLIO HIP, Bosnia Herzegovina
- History Teacher Education Network, Great Britain
- Historian ja yhteiskuntaopin opettajien liitto, Finland
- Hrvatska udruga nastavnika povijesti, Croatia
- Latvijas Vestures Skolotaju Asociacija, Latvia
- L’Association des Professeurs d’Histoire et de Géographie de l’Enseignement Public, France
- Moscow History Teachers Association, Russia
- Nova Doba, Ukraine
- Vereniging voor docenten in geschiedenis en staatsinrichting Nederland, The Netherlands
- Verband der Geschichtslehrer Deutschlands, Germany
This booklet contains individual reports on each event, based on submitted reports of the discussions, analysis of local and national perspectives and answers provided to the survey questionnaire.
Review at The Hague
The EUROCLIO-Europaeum partners also jointly staged a major international “review” conference to draw together ideas and feedback for the overall 2007-2008 Project year, held at the Leiden University campus based in The Hague, the Netherlands.
During the conference, results from an international survey carried out at all the many various national events were discussed and analyzed. These results are reported in the booklet, providing various European and educational perspectives on the core theme of Human Rights. Among some 100 participants were many coordinators from individual events and key-stakeholders in History Education, the Academic Study of History, Human Rights Organisations, drawn from 25 countries, representing various Higher and Secondary Education institutes, all brought together to discuss emerging themes and strategies. These participants were provided with a rich programme including lectures and workshops, excursions and visits to international human rights bodies, led by eminent historians, representatives of human rights organisations and history education institutes and organisations.
Based on the data and ideas collected in the different countries, the Hague workshops led to comparisons of the different aspects of Human Rights History as recognised and supported in different European countries. The programme also included school visits, where international history educators exchanged personal experiences with local Dutch History teachers and students, and study visits to International Peace and Justice Institutes located in The Hague, including the International Court of Justice and the Peace Palace offering first-hand contact and information how human rights justice can – and does – operate in practice. A full report of the event is at the end of this publication. Overall conclusions are outlined at the end of the publication.
About the conference series
EUROCLIO – European Association of History Educators – and The Europaeum – an association of leading European Universities – were awarded a grant by the European Union Education and Culture DG ‘Europe for Citizens’ Programme to help support a series of events and workshops across Europe on the theme “Human Rights in Europe? Tolerance, Democracy, Citizenship, Critical thinking and Multi-perspectivity as European Values” during the 2007-2008 academic school year. This project is in line with the objectives of the EU-Programme ‘to bring Europe closer to its citizens’ and to involve them in trans-national cooperation activities, to develop a sense of belonging to common European ideals and achievements and to promote further European integration. Therefore the project is designed to run for several years within the Europe for Citizens-Programme, so that it may tackle other themes and reach higher sustainability.
Founded in 1993, EUROCLIO – European Association of History Educators – is a European organisation supporting the learning and teaching of history by sharing and exchanging knowledge and experience. EUROCLIO promotes and supports history education across schools in Europe, so that it strengthens peace, stability, democracy and critical thinking.
Executive Director: Joke van der Leeuw
Project Manager: Jonathan Even-Zohar
Assistant Project Manager: Maria Kazamiaki
The association of 10 leading European universities was set up in 1992, designed to serve as an ‘international university without walls’, in which future scholars and leaders of our new Europe will have an opportunity to share common learning and confront common concerns together, from a formative age and throughout their active lives. Underlying, this was the aim to ‘think European’, to transcend national perspectives and empathise with a European mix of national and international cultures.
Secretary General: Dr Paul Flather
Programme and Publications Officer: Chad Frischmann