Europe has always been a continent within which many populations with diverse cultural backgrounds have co-existed. At times this has been peaceful and constructive, at others violent and destructive. During the last 100 years however, we have witnessed huge demographic changes as a major migration of populations from outside Europe, firstly into the major European cities and then more broadly across European countries, transformed the population mix. Many people in Europe have worked hard to cope with this movement of people and cultures, but the challenge of living together in a diverse environment has proved difficult to manage. In addition to that, the current scale and number of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, African and other countries has intensified the discussion around integration, tolerance, cultural diversity and renationalisation in Europe.

At the same time, artists and cultural institutions as well as arts educators have explored new ways to support formal, non-formal and informal education – motivated by the belief that learning in and through the arts can bring necessary benefits in terms of personal and societal improvement. Using UNESCO’s definition of learning as the basis of their interventions, the cultural education sector sees that the arts and other forms of cultural expression can not only contribute to the acquisition of knowledge and skills (learning to know and learning to do), but have a major role to play in helping people to discover themselves (learning to be) and to peacefully co-exist (learning to live together) in diversity. As a result, a variety of programmes, projects and initiatives across Europe emerged, designed to encourage partnership working between formal education in schools and the cultural sector.

“New Alliances for Europe”, a project of BKJ and CCE, funded by Stiftung Mercator and completed in 2015, identified these co-operations as motors for growth and development of quality and reach of cultural learning across Europe. But for now, many of these programmes are not addressing the challenges of living in a diverse and globalised world as much as necessary to substantially contribute to an improvement in intercultural understanding and learning to live together.

In this context, the aim of Europe in Perspective: International Co-operation in Cultural Learning is to create new transnational and European professional development opportunities that strengthen the capacity of those working in schools as well as in non-formal arts and cultural education to develop more intercultural understanding and European awareness. In order to achieve this, a multinational modular training concept is to be developed and tested in the field.

To encourage a diverse, European and intercultural perspective within regional and national programmes promoting local co-operation between schools and cultural partners across Europe, regular strategic exchange and communication with institutions or authorities in charge of these programmes will take place.

The outcomes of the project are intended to be:

  • the creation of new professional development and European training content in diversity, intercultural learning and international exchange for teachers and their local cultural partners;
  • the testing of the content in multinational trainings with practitioners from different European countries;
  • the support of a number of projects which apply the learning from the modules in international exchange projects with young people;
  • the embedding of the content in the regular programmes and courses of training and professional development providers in different European countries.

As a result, Europe in Perspective will ensure:

  • more European and intercultural learning experiences for teachers and their cultural partners by participating in multinational trainings;
  • more knowledge for teachers and their cultural partners about intercultural learning possibilities in local co-operation projects;
  • more knowledge for teachers and their cultural partners about cross-border exchange possibilities in Europe;
  • more intercultural learning for school children in local co-operation projects of schools with their cultural partners;
  • more intercultural learning possibilities to foster the development of European awareness of school children through cross-border exchange programmes between schools in co-operation with cultural partners.

“Europe in Perspective: International Co-operation in Cultural Learning“ is a project of the German Federation for Arts Education and Cultural Learning (BKJ) and the international foundation Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE). It is a strategic partnership with KulturKontakt Austria (KKA), the National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts (LKCA), T-TUDOK Centre for Knowledge Management and Educational Research and realised in consultation with further European partners. “Europe in Perspective” is funded by Stiftung Mercator and supported by the European Union within the scope of the Erasmus+ Youth in Action Programme.