The “History Education in the Context of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and its Resolution” and “History Education in the Context of Georgian-South-Ossetian Relations” have been designed to contribute to an evolution of the ideological, exclusivist, and conflict-promoting approaches to history education and encourage the adoption of more modern conflict-sensitive and inclusive approaches among historians and history educators in the South Caucasus.
The Azerbaijani and Armenian historians, educators, and social scientists met with German and other historians, discussed current approaches to history education and historiography in conflict-affected areas and the corresponding European and American experience and started developing common principles to address the present problems. Following the workshop in Berlin, the Armenian and Azerbaijani Working Groups commenced parallel work on co-authoring a Methodological Manual on principles of historiography and history education – “Challenges and Prospects of History Education and Textbook Development in the South Caucasus”. The Manual was translated into all the relevant languages, followed by its publishing in all the languages and dissemination among professionals locally. Upon returning home the Armenian and Azerbaijani Working Groups held local meetings sharing the contents and results of the meeting with their colleagues as well as initiating discussions with other historians and educators with whom they come into contact in their professional settings. Next, the Working Groups started working on the approaches and methods of writing the Supplemental History Lessons. Keeping the Methodological Manual as the guiding instrument, the Working Groups authored each lesson with appropriate content and context, methods, activities, materials and assignments. The Working Groups also held small local workshops for history teachers. The lessons were piloted both in Armenian and Azerbaijani schools. An increased number of teachers have been reaching out to us requesting access to the Manual and the Lessons, to use them in their classrooms.
Georgian and South Ossetian educators went through joint professional development seminars in Tbilisi and in Kiev in October 2013, followed by coordination and agreement on Principles of Historiography and History Education. This was followed by co-authoring of a Methodological Manual on these principles – “Challenges and Prospects of History Education and Textbook Development in the South Caucasus”. The Manual was translated into all the relevant languages, followed by its publishing in all the languages and dissemination among professionals locally. After the second and third rounds of workshops held in March 2014 and June 2014 in Istanbul, the specialist involved in the program produced Pilot History Lessons through mutual feedback and editing followed by their piloting in schools.
In order to build a regional network of historians and history educators who are ready to support each other’s networks in advancing history education reform in the entire South Caucasus, the Imagine Center facilitated contacts and coordination between the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, and South Ossetian Working Groups of the two projects. This has allowed for the creation of a platform for exchange of experience, flow of ideas, an increased sense of professional solidarity, and prospects for future collaboration.
The project gave an opportunity for these specialists to meet and collaborate with colleagues from the “other” side. As one of the historians noted, “The meeting with our colleagues with whom we do not have many chances to meet has been really important. We communicate over email; but personal communication, reacting to the person’s words looking in the eyes is, of course, much better.” Apart from direct contacts, the project has also reached out to extended groups of historians and educators locally – through roundtables and workshops led by the project participants for colleagues at universities and schools, bringing into the conversation new and conflict sensitive approaches to history and history education. Finally, the project has impacted students with whom the History Lessons have been piloted and who have had lessons with alternative approaches and an opportunity to assess these lessons.