3rd Annual Conference of the
Observatory on History Teaching in Europe (OHTE)

Teaching history, teaching peace?

30 November - 1 December 2023, room 9, Palais de l'Europe

 

The European Cultural Convention of 1954 aimed to develop mutual understanding between the peoples of Europe and guarantee peace while respecting the fundamental values of the Council of Europe, in particular through the avenue of history teaching. Therefore, the establishment of the Convention marked the first important step in the Council of Europe’s work in history teaching, which was continuously developed and led to the creation of the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe (OHTE) in 2020. Furthermore, the Reykjavik Declaration at the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (16-17 May 2023) reiterated the significance of history teaching.

2023 is also a decisive year for the OHTE in that its first General Report on the State of History Teaching in Europe, will be presented at its 3rd Annual Conference. The Report aims to explore the different methods and practices implemented in the field of history education in the OHTE member states. The presentation of the Report is all the more important and symbolic given that history and the teaching of history are currently subject to numerous controversies, attempts at manipulation, and abuses orchestrated by anti-democratic forces or motivated by political agendas – phenomena which threaten frameworks of critical thinking and the preservation of democratic and humanist values. The most striking example of these abuses is the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, which has justified its aggression by denying Ukraine’s own history and existence as an independent nation.

These trends can be observed to varying degrees throughout the European continent, but they are not universal and fortunately, we are not fighting a losing battle. To guarantee peace and ensure that these practices do not spread or become commonplace, we need to question and observe the ways in which history is taught and learn from past mistakes to avoid repeating them.

  • How many hours should be allocated to teaching history?
  • What tools are available to history teachers?
  • What content is being taught to the future generations?
  • Are they sufficiently trained to develop their critical thinking skills and understand the challenges of democracy and peace?

The OHTE's member states are united in their desire to provide their students with appropriate educational content that fosters in them the universal values defended by the Council of Europe. However, it is also interesting to see how states are guarding against abuses of history, particularly in cases where history courses are entirely dedicated to the pursuit of political agendas or where multi-perspectivity is disregarded. These questions are intended to prompt reflection on the need to integrate history teaching into processes of reconciliation and understanding between peoples, thereby guaranteeing a peaceful future for generations to come.

The 3rd OHTE Annual Conference will therefore be an opportunity for each participant and speaker to consider the place of history teaching in their country and in Europe as a whole, and discuss the link between history teaching and the teaching of peace in light of our past experiences - particularly at a time when peace is under threat.

Conference landing page: www.ohte2023.com 

The Annual Conference is organised by the Council of Europe with the financial support from France and Andorra and in partnership with the City of Strasbourg, the Grand-Est Region, the European Collectivity of Alsace and the French Government. The three-year "Strasbourg, European Capital" 2021-2023 contract signed by these local authorities on 9 May 2021 confirms their support for the Observatory for History Teaching in Europe.