Universiteit Leiden

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Public lecture: Challenges of Teaching Controversial Issues in a Post-Conflict Society

Thursday 30 March 2023
A0.08 KOG

Stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and segregation are some of the challenges faced by the contemporary society and this is especially prominent in education. Issues which cause strong feelings and diverse opinions often emerge in the classroom, thus creating or even deepening divisions and distrust among people and eventually perpetuating the “us vs. them” perspective.  

Bosnia and Herzegovina as a post-conflict society is particularly susceptible to these challenges with three different ethnonational curricula on all educational levels for the last thirty years.  

Melisa Forić Plasto (History Department) and Lejla Mulalić (English Department) from the University of Sarajevo will present the case of 'two schools under one roof' as a way of strengthening and homogenizing ethnic identities at the expense of a more inclusive and multiperspectival approach. They will also share examples from their teaching practice in the context of initial teacher education with special emphasis on peace pedagogy. Furthermore, their presentation will address the teaching of controversial issues beyond Bosnian context with the aim of 'mapping the boundaries' of academic freedom and political correctness, as well as the necessity of contextualising.  

Melisa Forić Plasto and Lejla Mulalić will highlight the role of universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in promoting values of peace, equality and freedom, given their considerable independence from national educational policies. Finally, the example of Peace Education Hub at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Sarajevo will be discussed as a safe space which brings together academics from different fields of study, practitioners and representatives of the civil society in their pursuit of a more peaceful, sustainable, democratic, and just education and society. 


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