The Alpbach Summer School on European Integration held its annual program in Belgrade to learn about the region’s history, culture, society, politics, and law. The CDRSEE’s Nenad Sebek led a panel discussion and presented the work of the CDRSEE at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory.
The dialogue, rather than taking the customary jot down and repeat what I say approach of regional education, engaged students in a vibrant discussion on the concept and subjectivity of history, shared identities, and the EU integration aspirations of Balkan states. Students were immediately challenged to think outside the box and reexamine the cultural differences that borders of the Balkans have established. Throughout the discussion, Nenad presented the students with the CDRSEE’s flagship program, the Joint History Project. While making sure to highlight the project’s successes in teaching history by avoiding stereotypes, identifying attitudes that encourage conflict, and promoting the idea of multiple interpretations of one event, he also addressed some of the hardships that the project has faced as Balkan societies are still in the process of breaking away from nationalistic sentiment, xenophobia, and ethnocentricity. The students were appreciative to learn of the project and grasp at the idea to study history with multiple interpretations of one event.
The discussion was followed by a question and answer session where the students eagerly sought answers to issues ranging from the transformation and emergence of political parties in Serbia, Montenegro’s EU accession path, and the process of reconciliation in the region.