Glencree has been involved in the delivery of peace education projects and programmes for almost 40 years. Our current work in the area of Peace Education and Young Adults connects and engages students and young adults on a cross border, north-south basis. This work has been largely funded by the Reconciliation Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
This work aims to promote engagement among students and young adults from across the island of Ireland through peace education, shared learning and cross border, cross-community relationship building. It supports them in exploring their own and each others' identities and history, while at the same time allowing space for thought and action to build a shared future.
At a recent Glencree dialogue session, a group of school students from north, south and the border areas spoke about their concerns and aspirations for the future. They were worried about Brexit and the uncertainty involved. While they saw real value in cross border engagement, they found few opportunities to have such meetings. Some felt the history they learned was more likely to lead to resentment rather than reconciliation. Others sensed their understanding of the Troubles was biased and that they would like to be better informed.
With Glencree’s 40 years of delivering peace education programmes to students and young adults, these comments came as no surprise. A poor or partial understanding of history is a recipe for polarisation and can lead to alienation from political structures. To deepen reconciliation in a post-Brexit environment, there is a need to better understand the past and to develop the critical thinking skills and ability to build alliances and relationships for a better future. Education that is practical, creative and engaging has a key role to play in this process and in achieving this goal.
Connecting and engaging with students on a cross border, north-south basis has been a feature of Glencree's education work over four decades. Through our Peace Education and Young Adults work we help students to better understand the attitudes and behaviours towards ’the other’ in the context of shared and comparative histories. We also support them in exploring their own and each-others’ identities so that they are better equipped to build respectful and co-operative relationships for a shared future.
In order to prevent or diminish the option of violence, Glencree shares the skills, knowledge and understanding of how to: deal with conflict in a non-violent and creative way; explore identities and diversity; and develop leadership skills, with students and young adults from schools and universities across Ireland and overseas.
Workshops & Talks Glencree recent workshops and dialogues with colleges and universities include: The Kennedy Institute, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; University of South Carolina; University of New Hampshire; St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas; University of Kentucky; Bridgewater State University, Boston; Texas A&M University. Glencree also participated in a dialogue and workshops hosted by the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) focused on the theme of Educating for a Culture of Peace in Divided Societies.
‘Common Good’ Pilot Workshops Glencree ran two pilot workshops in conjunction with Youthlink, Northern Ireland, with Dublin-based St. Colmcille Community School. The workshops focus on the future and explored the theme of ‘the common good’ providing students with the opportunity to imagine the kind of future they would like to inhabit and to prompt them to examine their own role in bringing it about. The project also focused on engaging teachers in the process.
This joint initiative by Glencree and Politics In Action aims to promote greater engagement amongst a generation of young people across the island of Ireland who often feel alienated from current political structures.
“Our Identity” Dialogue Event This north-south schools dialogue event was hosted to coincide with the visit of H.R.H Prince Charles and President Michael D. Higgins to Glencree. Working with the Glencree team, pupils and their teachers from three schools examined the topic of Irish-British relations through dialogues and readings. The students, aged 16-18, represented St Colmcille’s Community School (Dublin), St Louis Secondary School for Girls (Dundalk), and New-Bridge Integrated College (Banbridge, NI).
Triskel Project Residential Building on the “Our Identity” Dialogue event at Glencree, the 45 students from across the three schools took part in a three day residential event at Corrymeela. The students were supported by Glencree and Corrymeela in exploring the themes of culture and identity through a series of workshops and team building activities.
Schools Visits The next strand in this project focused on visits to the participating schools and the use of arts and crafts skills as the medium to work together to advance the exploration of identity. Peace memorials and art works were examined and the use of Triskel design to represent the coming together of identities was pursued.
North/South Post-Primary Schools Civic Action Programme In the 2020/21 school year, Glencree and Politics In Action, with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Education, will continue to facilitate engagement between students on the island of Ireland through a series of activities including inter-school dialogues and student/politician dialogues. Recordings of the dialogues held between senior students from Ballyclare High School and Dominican College, Co. Antrim, Loreto Community School, Co. Donegal and Dublin’s Luttrellstown Community College with politicians north and south of the border can be viewed below.
Now in its second phase, this programme relates to part of the Irish Government’s commitment set out in the policy document ‘New Decade, New Approach’ , the agreement to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland (Jan 2020) to: “Build(ing) on the success of the recent pilot programme of bringing pupils together – from schools North and South of the Border, from Nationalist and Unionist communities, and from the Integrated Schools sector – to meet, discuss issues of mutual concern and visit sites of significant shared historic relevance, we will expand the scheme over the lifetime of the next Government with a target of achieving 100 such cross border engagements per annum within a 5 year programme.”
The objectives of the programme are to: