I am invited to present a paper at the upcoming 11th UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development: "Global Challenges for Education: Economics, Environment and Emergency', 13-15 September 2011, at the University of Oxford (Examination Schools) (United Kingdom). My paper is titled: "Peacebuilding and Inter-Human Pedagogy in Lebanon: vision and practices in the university context". I will be presenting it with Linda El-Halabi, who is currently completing her undergraduate studies at McGill University Montreal, QC, Canada, double majoring in Political Science and East Asian Studies. Since July 2011, Linda is working with me as Assistant Researcher.
This paper presents an overview of the Inter-Human Pedagogy, a particular approach to Peace Education in the Lebanese university context, which privileges interactive and inter-subjective practices. This approach has been applied since 2007 in three different academic institutions, the Holy Spirit University, Notre Dame University and Saint Joseph University, and it has been used with over 2000 university students. A qualitative field research was simultaneously conducted with 500 students of diverse identities and backgrounds. The methods used while conducting our research include interviews, participatory observance, the analysis of war stories and artistic works on visions of peace, etc. Over the course of several semesters, individual and collective narratives were collected, presenting a wide array of perceived history, self-image, beliefs and representations of selfness and otherness.
Global recession, climate change, conflict and emergency are challenges that have dominated the first decade of the 21st century. They have left few countries untouched. Governments are struggling to redress declining trade, brain drain and loss of revenues. People are migrating from poverty, the effects of drought and flood, and the repercussions of conflict. Loss of livelihood, land and security impacts disproportionately on those individuals, communities and states that are already the most vulnerable. This is forcing resource-constrained governments to think afresh about how to plan and manage their economies and promote social and cultural well-being.
At the same time, we are witnessing a fundamental power shift in the global political economy. This poses particular challenges for low income countries and their future development. The role of aid is being questioned amidst doubts about how to tackle corruption, reduce fragility and recover from emergencies.
Education risks being a casualty of these contemporary uncertainties. It is a catalyst for growth, environmental protection and peace-building, but it can also aggravate social tensions and marginalisation. How can education best contribute to sustainable development and a peaceful society? How can the delivery of basic education to the poorest be safeguarded in times of crisis? What types of learning and modes of delivery can best support individuals and states while helping economies to grow? What skills can best meet the needs of highly mobile labour markets?
The 2011 UKFIET Conference invites delegates to examine these challenges from educational perspectives, as we seek to resolve the crises that beset us and move towards a more harmonious and constructive future. We welcome ideas, accounts of experience and new thinking from policy-makers, teachers, researchers, managers and advisers. Education is insufficiently central to the debate on global challenges in the 21st century. Its voice must be heard.
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