International Conference "Interculturalism in Historical Education"

fot. Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews is pleased to announce the 1st international conference Interculturalism in Historical Education, to be held in April 2015 in Warsaw. The conference is being organized in partnership with the European Wergeland Center in Norway and with support from the Council of Europe.

We received over 80 submissions in response to our open call for workshop proposals, thank you! We are currently choosing the submissions which will be presented during the conference. The program of the conference will be announced on the 25th of February and the registration process will begin. We encourage you to join us! 

We will address the question of how to use knowledge and reflection about the past to build attitudes of openness in today’s globalizing world and harness the potential of diversity on the local level. We will look at methodologies of intercultural learning, civic education and education on human rights, paying particular attention to how to use education to prevent and combat discrimination, anti-Semitism, racism and hate speech.

We will consider the perspective of both practitioners and researchers. The conference will be an opportunity to discuss, exchange, brainstorm and connect with representatives of Polish and European organizations and institutions.  

We invite researchers in the field of interculturalism and intercultural education, as well as practitioners – museum professionals, representatives of NGOs and cultural institutions, activists and educators working on intercultural themes, as well as all those interested, to attend.

The conference program is being developed in cooperation with a Program Council whose members are:

  • Claudia Lenz – European Wergeland Center;
  • Sjur Bergan – Education Department, Council of Europe;
  • Alicja Pacewicz – Fundacja Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej;
  • Grzegorz Mazurkiewicz – Institute of Public Affairs, Jagiellonian University;
  • Debórah Dwork (Clark University).

The conference will involve lectures, panel discussions, films and workshops. The lectures and panel discussions will be conducted by invited experts from Poland and Europe, while there is an open call for experts who wish to run a workshop related to one of the conference sessions.

Thematic blocks:

I: History education and intercultural competences

In recent decades due to mobility and migrations European societies have become increasingly diverse. Many European countries also have a more diverse past than we are aware of. Diversity is not only linked to ethnic or religious difference – at some point in their lives most people will have the experience of being a “stranger” in a new environment, culture, or with regard to unfamiliar ways of communicating. Intercultural competence training is needed to prepare people for an encounter with what they experience as “different”.

Historical education can play a major role in this process, challenging assumptions of what is normal and taken for granted. What are the attitudes and intercultural skills one can discover thanks to historical science? What sort of practices do we observe at museums, memorials and in classrooms in this respect?

II: Local history and attitudes towards “others”

We would like to juxtapose global challenges with local histories in the context of communities. What role does the experience of diversity play in their past and present? What sort of challenges does it pose? Are local heritage and collective memory an important reference in local education?

How is memory of the local intercultural past animated – and what role does diversity play in animating local communities? What can local histories teach society at large?

III: Interculturalism in the city

Warsaw is a very interesting example of a city with a rich multicultural past which today, in spite of immigration, remains extremely homogenous as compared to other European capitals. This interesting case will become a point of departure for talking about the multiculturalism (and interculturalism) of contemporary cities, the importance of historical education for building attitudes of openness and respect for cultural minorities and migrants, and the relationship between public spaces and their history and memory. We will reflect on whose memory is represented in urban space, and how to breathe life into it.

IV: Dealing with prejudice, discrimination and hate speech

Even if triggered within contemporary socio-cultural and political contexts, prejudice, group focused hate and their expressions in hate speech and hate crimes can always be examined within some kind of historical context. Often those who hold and express negative attitudes towards minorities are not aware of the destructive consequences of such attitudes in the past, nor of their destructive potential for our own societies.

How can understanding the historical dimension of racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate against minorities contribute to effective educational responses and prevention? What can historical education contribute to combating prejudice and hate? And how can education in physical environments such as museums or memorials address hate on the internet?

Important dates:

  • 15 January – deadline for submitting workshop proposals
  • 25 February – announcement of full conference program and beginning of participant registration
  • 31 March – last day to register as a participant
  • 20-22 April – international conference Interculturalism in Historical Education


The conference is realised within the framework of "The Jewish Cultural Heritage" project supported from the Norway and EEA Grants by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.,