Next stop: ZAGREB!


Zagreb_2 by Mario Fajt

Dear NECE enthusiasts,

Exchanging information, networking and learning from one another are of paramount importance for the creation of a European public and for the Europeanisation of citizenship education. In order to facilitate the latter more effectively, our team concentrates not only on focal points of the content, on stimulating the debate and promoting the exchange of experience in its preparations for the NECE conferences but chooses an exciting new venue each year that highlights the respective theme of the conference. [...]

This enables participants to carefully examine the latest citizenship education trends and specific concepts of the host countries from a number of different perspectives, to compare them with one another and indeed to learn from them. Whereas the 2015 NECE conference was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, this year's conference will be held in the multicultural metropolis of ZAGREB in Croatia! You are probably wondering why Croatia is an interesting country for NECE and for citizenship education?

 

In line with the theme of this year's conference "Crossing Borders. Migration and Citizenship Education in Europe" and the ongoing refugee crisis, migration is a well-known phenomenon in Croatia. Owing to the many historical and recent developments such as World War I and World War II, the search for a better way of life in Western Europe, the ethnic conflicts that sparked the wars in Yugoslavia - the effects of which are still being felt today - and the demographic trends in the Balkans, Croatia has been greatly impacted by immigration and emigration since the 19th century. Zagreb's geographical location and geopolitical position as a metropolis of the former Habsburg Empire has turned this city into an important hub for migration movements in the past and present. Today, Croatia is home, inter alia, to Serbs, Slovenes, Bosniaks, Chechens, Italians, Albanians and Hungarians and was the first country in the Western Balkans to join the EU (in 2013).

 Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite the many challenges it faced as a multi-ethnic country, Croatia has frequently been reffered to during the past 18 months as "country of open borders". The humane way it treats refugees from the Middle East has also been highlighted. 

Citizenship educators in Croatia have made a major contribution towards turning a post-conflict society into a flourishing EU Member State. At present, they are heavily involved in coping with challenges big and small as well as social and political conflicts, for instance, during the most recent parliamentary elections and in relation to the intensive debate on education.


In order to afford you, as conference participants, the opportunity to delve deeply into this vibrant landscape of local citizenship education initiatives, some exciting field trips have been organised for the second day of the conference. We are delighted to have partnered up with the following organisations in Zagreb to facilitate these field trips. The work they are performing is making an active contribution towards fostering critical thinking and intercultural cooperation.

The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS; CPS) is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation that promotes non-violence and social change through education, research and activism. CMS grew out of various forms of direct peace-building in western Slavonia (Volunteers’ Project Pakrac, 1993-1997). It was founded in Pakrac in 1996 and was formally registered in Zagreb the following year. Its work focuses mainly on•   Combating racism, xenophobia and ethnic exclusivism•   Conflict transformation and non-violence affirmation•   Social solidarity, human security and development cooperation

Goethe Institut Zagreb is one of the 159 Goethe Institute worldwide that supports issues under global discussion among the public, in the media and in academic circles by organising discussion programmes. Goethe Institut Zagreb organises and supports a wide range of cultural events with a view to showcasing German culture in Croatia; it also initiates long-term, intercultural exchange projects. Goethe Institut also identifies issues that are socially relevant and provides impetus derived from social and political developments as well as important commemoration dates,for instance. In doing so, Goethe Institute work independently and without any political ties.

GONG is a civil society organisation that was founded in 1997 to encourage citizens to actively participate in the political process. Its goal is to promote and foster human and civil rights as well as to encourage and empower citizens to participate in the political process. It celebrates dialogue culture, honesty, transparency and responsibility in the public domain, while respecting human and civil rights through research, advocacy and education, on its own or in collaboration with individuals and/or organisations that share its values.

The Knowledge at Work Foundation is an independent foundation that has no ties with any political or interest groups and has no commercial motivation. The Foundation's programmes are geared especially for young people joining the labour market, for young talents and teachers who would like to broaden their knowledge and skills by adopting a practice-oriented approach and assuming social responsibility.

The NECE team wishes to extend its sincere thanks to the local partners who helped us organise the conference. We hope the conference participants find the field trips exciting and that their experience of the vibrant metropolis of Zagreb provides them with much inspiration!


Zagreb Mario Fajt

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