The Centre for Shared Education in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, together with the Social Change Initiative, hosted an important international symposium on Shared Education at Queen’s University Belfast on 12-13 December. The aim of the symposium was to reflect on the development and implementation of shared education in Northern Ireland, and to consider the policy transferability of the model to other divided jurisdictions. The event brought together academics, policymakers and practitioners from Northern Ireland and a number of divided societies where shared education has been introduced or where there is interest in piloting the model. These included several Balkan states (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina), Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon.
The symposium considered three main aspects: the curriculum as a vehicle for advancing shared education’s objectives; the effectiveness of contact via shared education in changing attitudes; and the role and mechanisms of collaboration in divided societies. There were opportunities for participants to hear from policymakers and school principals about shared education, as well as to consider the future development of the shared education model. Participants from each of the countries represented were also invited to provide an overview of their regional context and the experience/potential of shared education within it.
The event was very successful, with participants highlighting the value of sharing experience and insights with colleagues from a range of professional backgrounds and nationalities. The Centre for Shared Education and the Social Change Initiative hope to continue these networks as shared education develops in Northern Ireland and internationally.
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