15’ of
conversation with…


15’ Conversation with… is a unique opportunity to talk with peace education professionals who focus on learning across difference and conflict transformation.

Thirty education and scientific experts will each host a table ready to share their practices, tools and reflections with you. In total we will have three rounds of 15-minute conversations. Up to four people can join each conversation, transforming it into a mutual knowledge exchange in an open and informal setting.

The purpose of this session is to create a space for participants to learn, share and exchange inspiring experiences, ideas and … visiting cards from across Europe!

Here’s a quick outline of our table hosts and their subjects:

Paul Ainsworth

Ariel Trust, UK

Topic: Tools for anti-violence education

Paul Ainsworth has been the director of Ariel Trust, an educational charity, since 2000. He leads a creative team developing anti-violence resources for schools. Currently over 200 schools use these resources across northwest England. Last year around 21,000 young people engaged in anti-violence education with Ariel Trust.

Paul works closely with the Social Research Unit – Dartington in order to conduct research into best practice in anti-violence education. This research feeds directly into the design and development of new educational resources.

Paul will share the findings of research into best practice in anti-violence education. He will seek to demonstrate the importance of skills-based interventions designed to help young people practise the communication skills they require to de-escalate conflict, build support networks and engage bystanders.


Tomas Baum

Flemish Peace Institute, Belgium

Topic: Researching the effectiveness of peace education

Tomas Baum is the director of the Flemish Peace Institute. He studied philosophy, applied ethics and international politics. He studies the common characterizations of peace that comprise democratic, cultural, institutional and cosmopolitan elements. From this perspective he reflects not only on war and peace, but also on the relations between the local and the global, ideals and reality, morality and politics. Tomas also works as a facilitator in conflict transformation processes based on insights from participatory community building and theories of conflict resolution.

Tomas will share the results of a research project on the effectiveness of peace education.


Griet Boddez

Learn to Be, Belgium

Topic: Learn to be at school 

Griet Boddez is a Neurocognitive and Behavioral Approach (NBA) certified trainer, coach and counselor at the Institute of NeuroCognitivism in Brussels.

She is also involved with the “Learn to Be at School” project, a “brain-based” education program developed by the Learn To Be association. The aim of the program is to develop attitudes and practices that stimulate an adaptive mind-set that is global, complex and flexible, among both teachers and schoolchildren. This includes enhancing social and emotional skills, as how to cope with stress, how to prevent conflicts, how to boost motivation, commitment and self-confidence, etc. Her work with teachers and education teams is based on constructive, experiential and peer-to-peer learning. The program was evaluated by the University of Namur and the University of Antwerp.

Griet will talk about the "Learn to be at school" project and about what she considers as a basic need in education: better understanding of human behavior, and the capacity and skills to deal with it.


Tracey Burns

OECD, France

Topic: Education for the modern world

Dr Tracey Burns is a project leader in the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation of the OECD. She leads the Governing Complex Education Systems project and is also responsible for the OECD work on Trends Shaping Education, which looks at how trends outside of education could have an impact on education in the future. Previous to this she worked on social determinants of health and on education and social inclusion issues at both the OECD and in Vancouver, Canada. Tracey holds a BA from McGill University, Canada and a MA and PhD from Northeastern University, USA.

Tracey will speak to our rapidly evolving modern world and the role of education in addressing issues such as bullying, cyber security, and social and emotional skills.


Hilary Cremin

University of Cambridge, UK

Topic: Where now for peace education? Theory and praxis for the 21st century

Dr Hilary Cremin is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. She researches and teaches in the areas of peace education and conflict resolution in schools and communities internationally. Hilary has carried out research projects on restorative justice, peer mediation, violence and conflict resolution in schools. She has a growing interest in arts-based methodologies in educational research, including photovoice, poetry and autoethnography.

Hilary will share findings from a seminar in Cambridge, UK, in September 2015 in which leading international peace education researchers and thinkers convened to talk about the current challenges and opportunities of peace education. How can peace education respond to crises of legitimacy, representation and praxis as we move from modernist assumptions about war and peace in the 20th century towards postmodern realities in the 21st century? How can we avoid becoming complicit in structural and cultural violence, and how can we create new ideas of peace education grounded in notions of improvisation, hospitality, diaspora, transrationality and an aesthetic of peace?


Jonathan Even-Zohar

EUROCLIO – European Association of History Educators, The Netherlands

Topic: Disarming History Education – from a Weapon to a Tool for Conflict Transformation

Jonathan Even-Zohar has been working with history educators associated in EUROCLIO for over 10 years and is currently director. The organisation has provided cross-border professional development for over 12.000 history educators in over 50 countries, whilst building capacities for them to grow as independent associations on national levels, seeking to promote innovative and responsible history education that promotes critical thinking, mutual understanding, peace and democracy.

Jonathan has been mainly engaged with EUROCLIO’s work in south east europe as well as on remembrance and peace and is currently organising the next annual conference of EUROCLIO under the title “Reimagining Remembrance. Dealing with the Legacies of a Violent Past in History and Heritage Education”, 19-24 March in Belfast – all are welcome.

Jonathan will share the results of many history educators working across borders to develop high quality history education which is based on inquiry, source-work, constructing argumentations and establishing balances between rational and emotional understanding of the past. He hopes to also learn from practices common in conflict transformation and peace education in order to find ways to bridge across the curriculum and make sure history education is relevant to pupils today.


Marianne Gothlin

Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication, Sweden

Topic: The story of a school based on NVC principles

A teacher, counselor and certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Marianne Gothlin received her teacher degree in Stockholm in 1988 and started to teach in the Swedish state school system. A turning point in her career happened in 1990, when she discovered NVC through the teachings of Marshall Rosenberg PhD and one of his earliest certified NVC trainers, Towe Widstrand of Stockholm.

Marianne became a certified trainer in NVC in 1998 and started to explore the possibilities of developing schools and kindergartens based on the NVC principles, first as a schoolteacher and part of the pedagogical leadership in a state school in the Stockholm suburbs, and later as a teacher trainer in schools, kindergartens and teacher institutes all over Sweden.

In recent years Marianne has shared NVC internationally, as a trainer on many IITs (International Intensive Trainings) together with Marshall Rosenberg and other trainers from different countries.

In 1998, together with other teachers, Marianne founded Skarpnäcks Free School in Stockholm. They wanted to establish a school based on a real sense of inclusion and respectful, compassionate interactions. Teachers were all inspired by NVC and dedicated to an empathic approach. They used NVC dialogue to motivate children, as an alternative to the traditional use of threats, punishments and rewards. But yes, conflicts inevitably arose now and again! During the session Marianne will share some of their rewarding experiences as well as some that kept them awake at night.


Nataša Hauzer

Youth Aid Centre Association (YACA), Slovenia

Topic: Developing social skills through play

Nataša Hauzer has a Master’s degree in Social Pedagogy and is a youth worker at the Youth Aid Center Association (YACA) – a national, non-profit and non-governmental organization that unites professional and voluntary work to protect rights, as well as mental and social development of children and young people. YACA is specialized mostly in developing the social skills of children and young people.

Nataša has over seven years of experience in the youth sector. She works with groups and explores group dynamics in non-formal settings, facilitates team-building in high schools, organizes and facilitates youth exchanges with international partners, etc. For the last five years she has focused on exploring “play” as a method of working with children. She is one of the co-creators of the first and for now the only adventure playground in Slovenia. Her work is also focused on experiential and peer-to-peer learning.

Nataša will present two examples of peace education in practice, based on the “I'm ok, you're ok” policy: Training of Social Skills and Adventure playground. She will explore those elements that build collaboration, solidarity, intercultural understanding, trust, good self-esteem and respect among children and young people.


Petra Hilgers

deep:black, UK

Topic: A place where conflict is creative

Petra Hilgers is one of the founders of deep:black, a London-based co-operative run by four women with expertise in the arts, mediation and education. They design and facilitate a range of creative workshops, training programmes, arts-based projects and events. Coming from a mediation perspective, deep:black acknowledges without judgement different experiences, and focuses on creating opportunities for deepening understanding, building empathy and strengthening community.

Petra has over 15 years of experience in the fields of community development, team and organizational change, and personal development. She holds a degree in Social Pedagogy, and developed her skills in peace-building, non-violent communication, mediation and creative facilitation when working in communities in Germany, Bosnia, South Africa, Uganda, Sudan, Afghanistan and the UK.

Petra together with her colleague Polly Rodgers will share how they use the arts to make working with conflict and 'stickiness' accessible and fun, safe and supportive.


Belinda Hopkins

Transforming Conflict, National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth Settings, UK

Topic: Restorative approaches in youth settings

Dr Belinda Hopkins is the founder and director of Transforming Conflict, one of the UK’s leading providers of training and consultancy on restorative approaches in youth settings. She pioneered the application of restorative principles in school settings in the UK in the late 1990s and created the first training course in restorative skills developed specifically for teachers.

Belinda is the most published author in the world in the field of restorative approaches in both schools and care. Her pioneering books Just Schools (JKP 2004), Just Care (JKP 2009), and The Restorative Classroom (Optimus 2011) are internationally acclaimed.

Belinda has been centrally involved in developing National Practice Standards for individuals and quality standards for services and institutions, working closely with the Restorative Justice Council (RJC) and the UK Home Office for over 10 years. She was one of the first people in the UK to become an RJC accredited practitioner (APRJC). She was on the board of directors of the RJC for some years and remains on an advisory group to enhance training standards.

In recent years her most exciting work has been with local authorities, spreading the core values, beliefs and principles of restorative practice with agencies supporting children and families.

Belinda will discuss how the ethos, principles and practices of restorative approaches can transform communities and institutions. 


Nikolas Katsimpras

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program, Columbia University, USA

Topic: The importance of reflection, conflict intelligence, and conflict culture

Nikolas Katsimpras is a Senior Fellow of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, lecturer at Columbia University’s Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program, and assistant adjunct professor at the Dispute Resolution program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He designed the Conflict Resolution Lab of the graduate program in Development Practice at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), which he implements every spring.

A former officer of the Hellenic Navy, with extensive international experience, Nikolas has been awarded by the International Institute for Humanitarian Law, and in 2012, he received the Dynamical Systems Fellowship from Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4), to conduct research on the peace negotiations in Burma. Nikolas has a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University and a BS from the Hellenic Naval Academy.

Nikolas is a delegate of NATO Emerging Leaders, the premier leadership program of the Atlantic Council, and a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution. He is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. He is also a consultant on organizational culture and cross-functional collaboration, and a frequent speaker at technology conferences such as Velocity.

Nikolas proposes an open discussion on subjects such as the importance of reflection, conflict intelligence and conflict culture, as well as “Breaking Down Silos – Pandora’s box or the Holy Grail?”, complex problems and feedback loop mapping, and participatory methods for team-building and problem-solving.


Olga Klimecki

Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Topic: How can science contribute to conflict resolution? 

Dr Olga Klimecki is a neuroscientist and psychologist at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva. In her work, she seeks to understand the neural mechanisms that shape our social emotions in adaptive ways, combining methods from psychology, neuroscience and economy.

In her doctoral research she studied the neural and behavioral substrates of adaptive and maladaptive emotions, focusing particularly on plasticity. In longitudinal studies, she examined how far training social emotions (compassion, empathy) changes affective experience, prosocial behavior and neural function.

She extended her line of research to conflict behavior with a BRIDGE/Marie Curie fellowship at the University of Geneva (2013-2015). She is now joint coordinator, with Prof. David Sander, of research into the role of emotions in conflict resolution.

She is co-author of a number of studies, including Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training (Cerebral Cortex, 2012).

Olga will speak about recent scientific findings that inform us on the biological and psychological aspects of conflict, and in particular about her research on the role of emotions in negotiations and conflict resolution.


Myrna Lewis

Deep Democracy, South Africa

Topic: Conflict as an opportunity to grow

Co-founder and CEO of Deep Democracy, Myrna Lewis consults internationally and specializes in conflict resolution, interventions and transformation in complex and difficult situations. She also trains, accredits and supervises Deep Democracy Instructors worldwide.

Born out of South Africa’s transformation from apartheid to democracy, in 1995, the Lewis Method of Deep Democracy is a facilitative method that enables voices to be heard, resolves tension and conflict, and assists with decision-making, dialogue, cooperation and leadership. It has been applied successfully in more than 20 countries, in the social, educational and corporate sectors.

Myrna received an Ashoka Fellowship award for her work in education. In 2006, the United Nations recognized Deep Democracy as one of eighty leading African innovations. In 2012 Myrna became involved with the innovation and changes in Swedish political practices, supporting the involvement of citizens in decision-making. In 2014 she began teaching the Lewis Method to the International Labor Organization of the UN.

Myrna has a BA degree in Social Science, a BA Hons degree in Psychology, and an MA degree in Clinical Psychology. She completed further training in Process-Orientated Psychology and Psychosynthesis.

Myrna proposes to discuss ideas, strategies and methods to enable transformation to take place arising from conflict. "Conflict is given a bad name. It is, however, not conflict that's the difficulty, it's our reaction to it. Conflict is life's way of knocking on the door and giving us the opportunity to grow!"


Thomas Misco

Miami University, USA

Topic: Teaching controversial issues

Thomas Misco is Professor of Social Studies Education and Naus Family Endowed Faculty Scholar at Miami University. He has a BA in History and Geography (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and an MA and PhD (University of Iowa). He has conducted a wide variety of research studies on controversial-issue education in China, Guam, Japan, Latvia, Romania, South Korea and Taiwan. He published Preparing to Succeed at U.S. Colleges and Universities: A Guidebook for Chinese Students (2015) and Cross-Cultural Case Studies of Teaching Controversial Issues (2014). Misco is a past recipient of the Miami University Distinguished Scholar Award and a Fulbright Senior Specialist Fellow.

Thomas will focus on the importance of context for developing democratic citizenship through controversial-issue instruction.


Ahmed Moallim

Young Trainers Program, Leap Confronting Conflict, UK

Topic: Human interactions: reaction vs response

Ahmed Moallim is a young youth-work practitioner, and has been delivering training in emotional intelligence and conflict resolution to both young people and adults across the UK with non-profit organisation Leap Confronting Conflict since he was 15 years old.

Established in 1987, Leap prevents the escalation of everyday conflict into destructive behaviour and violence by giving young people and the professionals who work with them the skills to understand the causes and consequences of conflict. In 2009, Ahmed won Leap Volunteer of the Year and continues as a young trainer, working with his local council to support young people’s transition into adulthood and facilitating their personal, social and academic development through informal education.

Ahmed is a youth-work student at London Metropolitan University and is employed by the university to work in surrounding schools and colleges with young people to nurture their aspiration for higher education, through mentoring and coaching. He won the Mentor of the Year Award, 2015 as a result of his great work. Ahmed aspires to further his career and passion for creating positive change through motivational and inspirational speeches and hopes to take his transformational work abroad and work with young people in disadvantaged countries.

Ahmed will discuss the difference between responding as opposed to reacting and how our behaviour can fuel conflict when our emotions are heightened.


Esther Oliver

University of Barcelona, Spain

Topic: Promoting a culture of peace from year one

Dr Esther Oliver is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Barcelona, Spain and researcher at CREA (Community of Researchers on Excellence for All). Her research has been focused on analysis of the causes of gender violence affecting girls and on the processes of preventive socialization as a way to overcome it in schools from early childhood.

Esther conducted research for the FP7 IMPACT-EV and the FP6 INCLUD-ED projects from 2006 to 2011. INCLUD-ED, focused on the analysis of successful educational actions, was the only Social Sciences and Humanities project, from a list of 10 success stories, highlighted by the European Commission due to the social and political impact achieved. Esther was also the main researcher of the R+D National Plan The Mirage of Upward Mobility and Socialization of Gender Violence (2010-2013).

Prior to her position at the University of Barcelona, Esther was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick (2006-2008), conducting research on gender violence at universities, and guest professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen (2007). At present, she is Deputy Editor of International Sociology and her work has been published in journals such as Qualitative Inquiry and the British Journal of Sociology of Education, among many others.

Esther will discuss how scientific research has demonstrated the relevance of promoting a culture of peace and non-violence from birth onwards. Early-childhood education centers such as the Escola Bressol Cappont are promoting such a culture by (a) developing a model that leads to the consensus of the whole community (teachers, family members, children, and all educational agents) concerning zero tolerance of violence in the school, and (b) by working to establish a culture of peace through removing any elements of structural or cultural violence. 


Elena Passerini

Psycho-Pedagogical Institute for Education and Conflict Management, Italy

Topic:  The Good Conflict manifest

Elena Passerini, born in 1964, lives in Milan where she studied philosophy and psychodrama. She collaborated with pedagogist Daniele Novara in the Centro Psicopedagogico per l’Educazione e la gestione dei conflitti in Piacenza (Psycho-Pedagogical Institute for Education and Conflict Management), as a teacher trainer and developer of their tools for education, such as the “Interactive exhibition” and “Conflict cards”.

She co-authored with Daniele Novara the book Con gli altri imparo. La classe come gruppo per favorire l’apprendimento (With others I learn. Using the school class as a group that promotes learning), to be published by Erickson in December 2015.

As a parent of two, she refrains from threats, punishments and rewards. She co-authored with former anti-corruption judge Gherardo Colombo a book that discusses the use of rules in Italian schools: Imparare la libertà. Il potere dei genitori come leva di democrazia (Learning freedom. The power of parents as a lever to promote democracy), Salani, 2013.

Elena will speak about the Good Conflict Manifesto, which celebrates 25 years of studies and training about conflict management in education. Nine sentences are enough to convey the crucial skills. The aim is not “conflict resolution”, but to learn from conflicts and how to argue well, without violence – starting from childhood. The method of “litigare bene” (arguing well) helps teachers and parents to stop blaming each other or the children. If people cease looking for the guilty one, it becomes possible for children to stop saying “It’s not my fault”. Good education is the key to raising children who can manage conflict as the most evolved form of relationship.


Katrien Reynaert

Tierlantuin Childcare Center, Ghent, Belgium

Topic: Community-oriented childcare: a holistic approach to promote social skills in babies and toddlers

Katrien Reynaert is the director of Tierlantuin, a community-oriented childcare center in Ghent, and the laureate of the 2015 Evens Prize for Peace Education.

In 1980 Katrien began her career as a caregiver and educator in residential childcare. The social and pedagogical aspect of childcare was in full evolution at the time. Her training as a graduate in remedial education, family guidance and contextual counseling offered the necessary insights to see the child and his or her context as a part of a greater whole. In 2001, she became director of Extramural Childcare and head of the Department for Host Families of the City of Ghent.

In 2010 she was asked to help set up a childcare center adapted to the increasing social and cultural diversity in society and that would make good childcare accessible to all children and their parents (even the most vulnerable families). Together with a team of caregivers (diverse in age, nationality and training) she opened day-care center Tierlantuin in August 2010 in the highly diverse Rabot neighborhood.

Katrien will explain how the Tierlantuin nursery includes the development of social skills in a much broader context; how it is highly visible and accessible, runs in strong partnership with parents and local residents, and takes a very positive attitude to diversity.


Florence Rizzo

SynLab, France

Topic: Children as change-makers

Florence Rizzo is the co-founder of SynLab, an independent organization that seeks to bring meaningful learning innovations to life and especially to develop the non-cognitive skills of children through the empowerment of teachers. SynLab works as a citizen research and development body that mobilizes researchers, educators, and private and public-sector networks to co-create projects with the potential to contribute to systemic change.

Previously, she worked with Ashoka, a global network of innovative social entrepreneurs and contributed to its launch in France, Belgium and Switzerland. She was nominated in June 2011 at the French National Council for New Technologies to lead a working group on e-education. She was also part of a parliamentarian’s team that worked on preparing a report to the French Ministry of Research on the impact of new technologies on education. She holds a Master’s in Political Science and International Relations, and an MBA from ESSEC Business School with a focus on social entrepreneurship.

She will share the results of different programs such as Design for Change and Spark, with a focus on the development of social and emotional skills like self-awareness, cooperation, resilience, etc. She will show how children can be creative when we provide them with the tools to lead change and solve the issues they are confronted with.


Polly Rodgers

deep:black, UK

Topic:  A place where conflict is creative

Polly Rodgers is a member of deep:black, a London-based co-operative run by four women with expertise in the arts, mediation and education. They design and facilitate a range of creative workshops, training programmes, arts-based projects and events. Coming from a mediation perspective, deep:black acknowledges without judgement different experiences, and focuses on creating opportunities for deepening understanding, building empathy and strengthening community.

Polly joined deep:black in 2015 after freelancing with the organisation in the project ‘The Fox & the Tiger‘ in 2013/2014 – in which more than 60 women worked with deep:black artist Trupti Magecha and Polly to explore identity and bravery through photography and storytelling. She is a creative practitioner specialising in storytelling, creative writing, oral history, narrative mediation and facilitation to inspire communities and work towards social inclusion. Polly has extensive experience working with communities and disadvantaged groups, and a passion for finding and facilitating the stories of those who never imagined they had a tale to tell.

Polly and Petra Hilgers, one of the founders of deep:black, will share how they use the arts to make working with conflict and 'stickiness' accessible and fun, safe and supportive.


Annika Sparrdal Mantilla

Ängbybarnens Pre-schools, Sweden

Topic: Empathic communication at the heart of working with young children

Annika Sparrdal Mantilla is the founder and CEO of the Ängbybarnens pre-schools just outside Stockholm, opened in 2008. There are currently five Ängbybarnens pre-schools, with over 50 employees and 250 children.

Annika has worked in the field of education for the last twenty years. Inspired by empathic and non-violent communication, as well as by Reggio Emilia’s pedagogical principles, she shares with her team a vision that she strives to apply in all aspects of development and management of the Ängbybarnens pre-schools: “Joy gives us harmony and desire to learn new things. We treat each other with compassion and respect. We work together in dialogue: talk frankly, listen attentively and decide together.” At Ängbybarnen they seek to encourage and support the children in the school to become independent, while also showing consideration towards other people.

Annika will talk about how, together with her team, she continues to develop a common approach based on empathic communication, and integrate it in all aspects of school life (organization, pedagogy, activities, etc).


Nadin Tettschlag

Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI), Germany

Topic: Teaching materials for classroom diversity

Nadin Tettschlag joined the Georg Eckert Instituteas a research fellow in the department Textbook and Society, working for the project "Zwischentoene/ Nuances – Teaching Materials for Diversity in Classrooms” in December 2013. Nadin studied social work/social pedagogy at Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin and focused on intercultural education, migration and transnationality. Until 2011, she was a member of the research training group “Transnational social support” at the University of Hildesheim, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Nadin will introduce the “Nuances” project, a multimedia Internet platform for teaching materials for a globalized classroom marked by cultural and religious heterogeneity. The project encourages students to see diversity as a typical case of development within a society, and aims to improve students’ knowledge and competencies.


Catherine Vairon

Léon Jouhaux elementary school, France

Topic: Practical ideas to improve school climate

Catherine Vairon started her professional career working in social centers with children in disadvantaged areas. This was not only very formative, but also stimulated her interest in the peaceful management of conflicts. Her psychology studies, pursued simultaneously, reinforced her understanding of non-violent communication.

A teacher at the Léon Jouhaux school in Villeurbanne, she initiated in her class a trust permit system and a class council. These practices have been adopted widely in the school and have been enriched with peer mediation and a student council. In 2013, the school received the Evens Prize for Peace Education for its effective methods of constructive conflict management and its success in promoting a climate of peace in the school.

Catherine will speak about the school’s various conflict management practices, including peer mediation, pupil participation in the classroom and in school life, the involvement of parents and the system applied for enforcing rules. Part of the prize award was allocated to disseminating the school’s good practices. This is done through a short film describing the school’s methods, and training modules delivered by its teachers to colleagues in the region.


Sigrid Van Eepoel

Erasmus University College Brussels (EhB), Belgium

Topic: learning the Democratic Dialogue

Sigrid Van Eepoel has Master’s degrees in religious studies and pragmatic linguistics. At Erasmus University College Brussels, she heads the Teacher Training Program for Secondary Education, as well as the Democratic Dialogue project. This project sends out Dialogue Coaches to schools experiencing either conflict or taboo where different religions, philosophies and moral frameworks seem to clash with school curricula and daily life.

Sigrid learned the ropes of pluralistic dialogue as a teacher of religious education in official secondary schools, later expanding her activities to adult training, in contexts as diverse as teacher training, communication coaching, and English as a foreign language. The 15 years thus spent in polyphonic environments gave rise to a strong concern for the development of intercultural and interfaith communication skills, so essential within a healthy democracy.

Sigrid will reflect with the participants on “The radical in each of us”, asking questions based on Socratic Dialogue principles that aim to elicit awareness of the part we all play in the democratic processes of criticism and debate, wherever different viewpoints meet. Each of us may at times take extreme positions, and extreme positions are necessary in a democracy. However, democracy benefits if each of us also manages to critically debate these positions, and assess their impact on others.


Caroline Veltcheff

Ministry of National Education, France

Topic: Policy and tools for anti-violence education

Caroline Veltcheff works for the French Ministry of Education and is in charge of the systemic approach to improving school climate. She developed a whole section of the national policy on prevention of violence in schools. In collaboration with numerous partners, she developed a collaborative website, with 390 contributors throughout France; released a violence prevention method, which is applied in 23 out of 30 academies, including through local surveys of school climate, developed by Eric Debarbieux, and in which more than 70,000 students have taken part.

The development of the systems approach to improving school climate is based on current research, conducted in France, the USA and Canada.

Caroline will talk about her experience of developing policy on prevention of violence in schools and present the results of national surveys of school climate. She will highlight the need for the involvement of both adults and students, with, on one hand, self-diagnostic tools to build a school team for adults, and on the other, training of student ambassadors to prevent violence.