WG 4 Workshop 3

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COST Action CA 16211 RECAST

Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe

Debates 3

Hosted by the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Autonomous University of Madrid, this second workshop of Working Group 4: Debates of COST Action RECAST is scheduled for 4–5 March 2021 in Madrid as an online event.

Convened by Taru Haapala (Autonomous University of Madrid and University of Jyväskylä) and Maria Brown (University of Malta), it deals with Citizenship Education in European Democracies: Appraisals and Debates.

Call for Papers



The third and final workshop of Working Group 4: Debates, entitled Citizenship Education in European Democracies: Appraisals and Debates, was hosted by the Faculty of Law of the Autonomous University of Madrid on 4-5 March 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop was held online.

The conveners of the workshop were Working Group 4 Leader Dr Taru Haapala and Vice-Leader Dr Maria Brown. The workshop included 11 presentations with in total 16 participants from 5 countries in Europe, namely Iceland, Spain, Finland, Malta and Albania. The participants’ background was diverse, including scholars, journalists, civil society actors and other non-profit organisations, such as think tanks.

The theme of the third workshop of the Working Group, Citizenship Education in European Democracies: Appraisals and Debates, was decided on the basis of the issues and ideas presented and discussed in previous workshops of the Working Group 4: Debates. During the previous workshops, the conveners had identified education as a key issue of public debates in Europe. The first workshop which was held at the University of Malta in 2018 was about controversies in scholarly and public debates in Europe. Informed by the shortcomings and aspirations discussed during the first workshop, the second workshop indulged in soliciting visions of European democracy. It transpired that citizenship education was key to many of the expressed visions. Education is ultimately about knowledge and power, about informed engagement in political debates, about policymaking in national and supranational contexts, as well as about tools and training of skills and competencies, and who has access to them and on what grounds. Consequently, it was decided to dedicate the final workshop of this working group to appraisals and debates concerning citizenship education in European democracies.

The workshop comprised a total of three sessions:

To begin the workshop, the first session focused on Appraising and Debating Formal Citizenship Education Initiatives with presentations from Rafael López-Meseguer (European Foundation Society and Education, Spain) on the aim of building a common theory for civic education in schools across the European Union member states; Gilda Hoxha (Mediterranean University of Albania, Albania) on university student protest movement in Albania; Linda Hart and Miina Kaarkoski (Finnish National Defence University, Finland) on civic education in Finnish schools as a form of national defence; and Kirstin Sonne (University of Malta, Malta) on migrant integration programmes as a form of imposing national requirements of civic education on non-citizens.

The second session, Citizenship in European Democracies: Transnational Appraisals and Debates, introduced ideas of political agency to the discussion. The presentation by Anna Björk and Claire Shaw (Demos Helsinki, Finland) offered insights on the new layers of citizenship education, including digital, climate and global citizenship; Tomás Pacheco-Bethencourt (University of Málaga, Spain) provided an interpretation of educational policies used as political tools and arguments for populist purposes; and Massimo Santanicchia (Iceland University of the Arts, Iceland) contributed with a presentation of the notion of cosmopolitan citizenship in the field of architecture and its potentials of teaching about the political choices of human-made surroundings.

The third session of the workshop on Friday 5 March was entitled Citizenship Education: Appraising and Debating Contributions from Civil Society. It included presentations from Elena García-Guitián (Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain) who shared theoretical concerns about citizenship education and how they have been put into practice in a teaching innovation for university students; Javier Gil (University of Oviedo, Spain) on the educational value of partisanship shown by political parties; Maria Brown & Vincent Marmarà (University of Malta, Malta) on media consumption during election campaigns, especially in the case of Malta; and Chris Peregin (Lovin Malta, Malta) on journalism by political parties in Malta and the need for regulation to ensure fairness and legitimacy of media in the eyes of citizens.

Working Group Leader and Vice-Leader concluded the workshop with a discussion on the way forward. They informed the participants of an upcoming Call for Papers for a Special Issue on a theme related to the proceedings of the workshop to be determined in due course. The Call will be also circulated among previous workshop participants.

In sum, the workshop’s discussions engaged with citizenship education concepts and dynamics related to:

●    politics of representation and/or dislocation in citizenship education
●    the impact of globalised phenomena (e.g. neoliberalism, digital revolution)
●    platforms (physical or virtual) and
●    resources (human, educational, cultural, social, political, technological, etc.)

Workshop participants were also invited to look out for the forthcoming Call for Papers inviting contributions to a peer-reviewed journal Special Issue informed by this working group’s proceedings. It was agreed that the call would invite extended abstract submissions. A number of participants expressed significant interest, and a few extended abstracts have already been submitted by the time of writing of this report.

(Please note this report complements the programme)

Taru Haapala, Autonomous University of Madrid & University of Jyväskylä

Maria Brown, University of Malta

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