Skip to Content


Queen’s University celebrates UNESCO in Northern Ireland

Representatives from UNESCO sites and projects in the UK and Northern Ireland are gathering in Belfast today (31 January 2018) to learn more about Northern Ireland’s extraordinary connection with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and to celebrate its power to work together with the region.

From the dramatic coastline of Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage Site, to UNESCO Chairs at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University undertaking global research in education models and community integration, UNESCO sites and projects in Northern Ireland help support intercultural dialogue and international cooperation.

To celebrate this important connection between UNESCO and Northern Ireland, a reception is being convened by the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the UK’s central coordinating body for UNESCO related-matters in the UK, in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. The Reception also marks the opening of the 5th UK UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Network Colloquium, which is taking place at Queen’s University Belfast on 1 February 2018. The Colloquium will see UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks from across UK Universities gather to exchange best practice, and learn from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University about their world-leading research.

Beth Taylor, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, said:

“It’s always a pleasure to visit Belfast, and I’m particularly pleased to be here for a gathering of UNESCO Chairs from universities right across the UK, from the University of Glasgow to University College London.  UNESCO’s mission is to promote peace through intercultural dialogue and international collaboration, and it delivers that mission primarily through its networks – including UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks – enabling colleagues to work together across borders and support one another in addressing the challenges they face.

“Northern Ireland is home to two UNESCO Chairs, who are both experts in the field of education and its potential to reduce conflict and enhance human rights.  I am grateful to Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast for their vision in supporting this internationally significant research”

The UNESCO Chair in Globalising Shared Education Model for Improving Relations in Divided Societies at Queen’s University Belfast builds on the research and programme work at the Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s which has contributed to the development and mainstreaming of a curriculum based programme in schools to promote education and reconciliation outcomes for pupils and teachers in Northern Ireland.

Professor Joanne Hughes, UNESCO Chairholder at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“I feel incredibly privileged to have been awarded a UNESCO Chair which offers significant leverage for the work of myself and colleagues in the Centre for Shared Education. We believe education can play a significant role in promoting social cohesion and peaceful coexistence, and the unique UNESCO brand has been instrumental in supporting our research programme and helping us influence policy and practice not just in Northern Ireland but also in other deeply divided societies. The event at Queen’s offers a great opportunity for knowledge exchange, as UNESCO Chairs from across the UK are connected by their endeavours to tackle the most pressing global concerns of our time.”


Media enquiries to Sian Devlin or 028 9097 5292