The Peace Education Hub at the University of Sarajevo is a partner in the EWC project Preparing Future Teachers in the Western Balkans. In this interview we get to know Prof. Dr. Larisa Kasumagić- Kafedžić and the work she does with her colleagues at the hub.
“The mission of our Peace Education Hub is geared towards using peace building pedagogies and teacher resources grounded on values education to adequately address the issues of stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination in our society. We support teachers and student teachers of different subjects to develop and nurture the culture of peace in their schools and in their classrooms by teaching about peace and for peace in their specific areas of subjects”, Kasumagić- Kafedžić explains.
As far as I have understood, the hub is quite unique in that it gathers students from different institutes and disciplines as English, History and Pedagogy. What is the thought behind this?
“The Peace Education Hub Sarajevo is unique in that it gathers students and teachers from different disciplines and different institutes locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. Our coordinating team consists of professors who come from different disciplines like English, Cultural Studies, History, Teacher Education, Pedagogy and we intend to work with pre-service and in-service teachers of different subjects. Through our collaborative work with teachers and educators around the world we want to contribute to a more peaceful, sustainable, democratic, equitable and just education and society”.
“We are intending to develop a platform that will have a potential for meeting and training groups of students, teachers of all subjects, and community members, in peace building and nonviolence. We envision that we will create a platform to support teachers of different subjects in applying action research approach in their classroom and in developing specific strategies and tools in their teaching that will focus on societal and conflict/peacebuilding issues, values education, building partnership with local civil society organizations and bringing together different experiences and forms of knowledge. We also envision that our Peace Hub will aim to support the University to become a resource in peace pedagogies in teacher training programs across different disciplines and fields of study”.
How would you describe peace pedagogy and how does it relate to education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural understanding?
“In our work we believe that it is critical to recognize the complexity of the nature of conflict and the complexity of the world we live in, along with the multiple layers of human responses to different issues and concerns in today’s world, including political, social, environmental, psychological and philosophical concerns. We believe that through education, and in particular teacher education, a lot of those concerns and challenges should be critically evaluated and used as small pockets of change and transformation that start within the educational settings”.
“The peace pedagogy is inseparable from the education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural understanding, since they all entail the goals that are focused on engaging all participants of the education process in critical examination, reflection and analysis of the themes and topics related to identity, racism, stereotypes and prejudices, and they all emphasize that relationships are central to this process and journey of learning, discovery and actionProf. Dr. Larisa Kasumagić- Kafedžić
“Peace pedagogy is primarily based on the principles of critical pedagogy, which is the Freirean concept of critical consciousness, conscientization, or conscientização, which is aimed at critical analysis and in-depth understanding of the world with all its political and social contradictions, and transformative process that should result in taking actions against the oppressive and unjust elements in the society”.
“It is very important that both, teachers and learners alike are challenged to continuously reflect upon their learning, they all learn together, question and participate in the meaning making process, during which the students as well as teachers are challenged to experientially practice and exercise taking responsibility for their actions”.
“The peace pedagogy is inseparable from the education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural understanding, since they all entail the goals that are focused on engaging all participants of the education process in critical examination, reflection and analysis of the themes and topics related to identity, racism, stereotypes and prejudices, and they all emphasize that relationships are central to this process and journey of learning, discovery and action. The importance of affective domains of learning and knowing how to work with learner’s experience and emotion, and how to develop imagination and nurture creativity, is the foundation stone for all those educational approaches that value dialogic nature of the process of learning and dialogic relationship between teachers and students.
EWC has expressed support for the project Peace Building Pedagogies in Higher Education. How do you think EWC can support your efforts?
“We are very grateful for the support that EWC has provided for our project in terms of the expressed interest and their willingness to explore possible ways of collaborating in the future. Since our Peace Education Hub is aimed at developing and strengthening the connections with universities, peace centers, teachers’ institutes, and different education institutes that work on the issues of peace and nonviolence in education and teacher training nationally, regionally and internationally, we see the collaborative work with EWC as the part of the natural synergy in our programs and missions.”
“We have already established partnership with organizations like Forum ZFD, Facing History and Ourselves, and we are also exploring possibilities for reaching out to connect to other peace institutes, and teacher centers nationally, regionally and internationally. As we wish to develop the Hub of excellence in peace education for teachers of different subjects who are already in training or have developed many years of experience in teaching, not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but within the regional network of universities the support and possible collaborative projects in the future with EWC can easily be foreseen as the projected vision due to your extensive experience in the work with teachers and your dedication to the values in democratic learning, human rights education and intercultural pedagogy, all of which are integral to our peace pedagogy work and our mission.
“The Project Preparing Future Teachers in the Western Balkan is an invaluable experience for me and for two of my colleagues, who are also in our Peace Hub coordinating team. The greatest lesson so far and the most important experience from this project is a possibility for working collaboratively with colleagues and associates from the region. That is a wonderful group who have dedicated their teaching and learning to create critical learning possibilities for their students, and to be the change agents in their communities. This Project will enable teacher educators and prospective teachers of different subject to disseminate innovative practice in their classrooms and in their professional development, which makes the participation in this group of learners and teachers a unique, inspiring and precious experience”.