Colleagues from the Centre for Shared Education presented new research at two large education conferences. In August, Joanne Hughes, Director of the Centre, and Andrea Furey from Ulster University presented a paper entitled ‘Social identity and outgroup attitudes amongst Northern Irish school children of mixed denomination and same denomination parents’ at the European Conference on Educational Research in Copenhagen. Drawing on a study involving almost 3000 pupils, this paper highlighted differences in levels of identification with traditional community and national and political identities between respondents whose parents were from the same religious group as one another (who identified more strongly with these identities) and those whose parents were not.
At the same conference, Caitlin Donnelly, Deputy Director of the Centre, presented a paper entitled ‘Teaching citizenship in the faith school: qualitative evidence from separate schools in Northern Ireland’, based on research that she and colleague Stephanie Burns conducted over the past 18 months. This paper explored differences in the delivery of citizenship education across separate denominational schools and sectors, which the authors suggest reflect differences in the development of Catholic and Protestant identities in the post-Agreement period.
In September, Rebecca Loader (pictured above), Research Fellow in the Centre, presented insights from a comparative analysis of shared education initiatives in Northern Ireland and Macedonia at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference in Brighton. Charting the implementation of shared education in Northern Ireland and its subsequent introduction in Macedonia, this paper explored similarities and differences between the programmes in each country and examined the influence of the local context in shaping their development.
With colleagues from Bosnia and Hergezovina, Croatia and the Republic of Macedonia, the Centre for Shared Education is developing a series of networks to explore and advance shared education within divided societies. The networks include stakeholders whose work contributes to peacebuilding through the promotion of intergroup contact and intercultural dialogue in education. Drawing on the experience of the shared education model in Northern Ireland, these networks will consider how best to promote more positive intergroup relations in participant contexts.
The first stage of this ESRC-sponsored project brought together the networks for a three day symposium in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the end of April 2017. Over the course of the three days, participants visited shared education school partnerships and had the opportunity for engagement with the key stakeholders involved in the mainstreaming of shared education. Subsequent stages will involve the development of in-country interventions and an associated research and evaluation proposal.
Professor Joanne Hughes, UNESCO Chair and Director of the Centre for Shared Education, delivers a keynote address at the City of Moscow University, where an international conference on Education and Tolerance for the Multicultural Society is taking place between 14-16 February. The international conference, sponsored by the Tempus Programme of the European Union, brings together academics, practitioners and public sector officials from countries across Europe to explore issues relating to cross-cultural communication and integration. Joanne’s talk focused on the shared education model in Northern Ireland and efforts to develop similar initiatives in other divided regions.