Global Forum Puts Dialogue on International Interreligious and Intercultural Education on Agenda

12 November 2013

Some 500 experts, policymakers and religious leaders working in education and religion will meet at a high-level forum on interreligious and intercultural education in Vienna, Austria, on 18 and 19 November 2013. Participants from 90 countries are expected to attend the KAICIID Global Forum on the Image of the Other. This is KAICIID’s flagship programme and a multiyear initiative exploring how “Others” –  people of different religious or cultural backgrounds  –  are depicted in the spheres of education, media and the Internet. In its first year, the programme has, through four regional workshops, highlighted and strengthened interreligious and intercultural education as a means of promoting mutual understanding in a spirit of dialogue.

The KAICIID Global Forum is designed as a multitrack, large-scale dialogue and working meeting. Those attending will discuss and address the global challenges of finding ways to responsibly educate people so they are better able to understand and relate to those of other religions and cultures. The Forum marks the culmination of these workshops.

KAICIID Secretary General Faisal Bin Muaammar said, “Our world today is made up of increasingly diverse communities and societies, and the universal lessons of coexistence and understanding are more important than ever before. It is only through educating ourselves and others, learning about ourselves and those we share our world with, that we may begin to relate to each other through our commonalities rather than our differences. Dialogue needs to be an integral part of the creation of learning materials, and the learning process itself.

“Our work this year has been aimed at promoting this dialogue, and we are excited to welcome to Vienna our partners with whom we collaborated so successfully across four regional workshops. We are privileged to have these distinguished professionals with us as we continue to evaluate and showcase the findings of our work on a global scale.”

The aim of the Forum is to highlight best practices in education from all over the world – pinpointing effective training models and exploring ways to share them transregionally. Also taken into account will be resources to facilitate cooperation across disciplines and build lasting networks for an integrated approach to advance the fields of interreligious and intercultural education.

The Forum will feature discussions, round tables, workshops and dialogue amongst government representatives, experts, field specialists and religious leaders. Topics under discussion include interreligious education in universities and seminaries, engaging leading international youth organisations and the role of intergovernmental organisations in shaping our world. The Forum will also offer training and seminars to enhance the capacity of field practitioners to advance their work.

In the last year, KAICIID has taken an energetic approach to exploring the fields of interreligious and intercultural education. This Global Forum is the culmination of a series of four regional conferences the Dialogue Centre has hosted since May 2013 in Vienna, Austria; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; New Delhi, India; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The workshop participants shared their experiences in interreligious and intercultural education, and presented examples of methods and approaches that were proving effective in their regions. In each case, they also discussed region-specific challenges in the field of interreligious and intercultural education, and proposed recommendations to address them. These recommendations will be shared at the Forum.

Not only did the regional conferences bring together a range of distinguished experts, but each was also made distinct by the varied countries of origin and diverse professional profiles of the participants. The first of the year’s workshops, held in Vienna, featured representatives from the field of intercultural and interreligious education from research institutions, intergovernmental bodies, educational establishments, religious organisations, civil society and policymakers; as well as ambassadors from the Founding States.

In Addis Ababa, more than ten countries were represented amongst the conference delegates who took part. The penultimate workshop in New Delhi saw KAICIID host participants from all over the country, as well as from across the Gulf, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Buenos Aires was the final location for the four-part conference series. Here 27 participants from 10 countries – Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay – took part.

The Forum will conclude on 19 November 2013 with the announcement of international cooperative agreements. These cooperative agreements will play an important part in the development of KAICIID’s work in the future.