ICD Conference - Stockholm

When past is present - about how cultural heritage and learning can enhance each other

Stockholm - Friday, 20th November 2009

The third model ICD-Conference (Conference on Intercultural Dialogue) in the course of the project weReurope - European Lifelong Learning by Intercultural Dialogue took place in Stockholm at the Skeppsholmen Folk High School on the island of Skeppsholmen and was organised by the Swedish National Heritage Board (RAÄ).

When past is present gave the chance to study problems and issues related to different forms of learning, particularly in the context of cultural heritage and to explore Sweden's rich educational tradition - a cultural heritage in itself. The conference also provided an opportunity to get inspired by other peoples' projects and experiences in the area:

50 persons had enrolled from 14 EU and Non EU countries, mostly working in the fields of cultural heritage, museums and education (university e.g.), including invited experts from Denmark - Lisbeth Haastrup, The Danish School of Education University of Aarhus; Finland - Minna Hautio, HUMAK, University of Applied Sciences, Turku; Lithuania - Neringa Miniotiene, College of social Sciences, Vilnius and Estonia - Riina Kütt, NGO Centre for Development of Public Administration, Tallinn.

All participants actively took part in lectures and workshops and added their personal items and stories from Denmark (DK), Estonia (EE), Finland (FI), Lithuania (LT), Latvia (LV), Norway (NO) and Sweden (SE) to the Carpet of Symbols and Memories.

After welcome by the host and introduction to weReurope, Bernt Gustavsson, professor in pedagogy at Örebro University continued with a lecture about popular education and how it's treated as a tradition in relation to study circles and folk high schools. This tradition is transformed today in many ways and for different reasons.

After a coffee break participants were divided into two workshop groups through red and green coloured dots, applied to their name tags. The groups would start with either workshop A or B and change rooms after round one to do the other workshop likewise.

A) Is the Past a Foreign Country?
This laboratory by Kajsa Althén, Tema Q at Linköping University, discussed society and democracy in Europe today - and in the future, with artefacts from our common European cultural heritage.
Participants split into small groups, divided through categories of tiny objects ("Find friends who have the same kind of object": wild animals, stones, cables, puzzle pieces, screwdrivers, coins etc.) to consider whether there is anything like eternal values. What have we taken along from middle ages?

Eternal values are identified around the groups:

Values however change and are to be seen in different contexts

The small groups continued working with Bronze Age object replicas. Each group chose one and discussed its meaning in relation to Intercultural dialogue. A map of Europe on slide illustrated the connections in Europe 4000 years ago, by which means and for which purpose did objects travel from South to North?
Results of the discussions were shared among the groups and underpinned by comments of the Bronze Age expert from the museum.

B) Extended version of 'Carpet of Symbols and Memories'
The workshop by Maria Sträng and Lena Johansson, Swedish National Heritage Board included not only the presentation of the objects and the related stories by participants and experts, but also a SWOT analysis (in 2 groups) of the exercise as well as a discussion on the question: In which way is the method intercultural? (2 groups), results were finally presented to the other groups.
Each participant had to bring along one object, which is linked to a personal memory or experience from one of the following countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway or Sweden.

The group discussions on S(trengths), W(eaknesses), O(pportunities) and T(hreats) can be summarised as follows:

After the Lunch break participants were introduced to an important part of Sweden's intangible heritage - choir singing. Stefan Parkman, professor in choir conducting at Uppsala University, gave a workshop on The joy of leading - the art of conducting, giving participants a chance to experience how a culture heritage in itself can be a bridge for intercultural dialogue and learning.

Syntheses and experiences from today's conference by Anna Klint Habbe, Swedish National Heritage Board and experts from neighbouring countries, Neringa Miniotiene (LT), Riina Kütt (EE). Minna Hautio (FI) and Lisbeth Haastrup (DK) and participants of the conference. The concluding plenary brought all participants together in a big circle to comment on the ICD-Conference, their experience and to ask clarifying questions. Participants agreed in general, that "cultural heritage can be used very well as a driving force for learning" (Minna Hautio), especially in an informal or non-formal context, since "cultural heritage has the potential to link past, present and future" (Riina Kütt).

People left the conference (which, again, was too short to reflect on everything in detail) inspired and encouraged.

Partners were invited to the world heritage site Skogskyrkogården to have a guided tour at this amazing "Woodland Cemetery", designed by Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz, located in southern part of Stockholm. Skogskyrkogården is, as cultural heritage, an unique example of how it is possibly by means of architecture to create an environment with an intercultural purpose.

All ICD-Conference material can be seen here:


Copyright - weReurope 2009