Connecting Cultures: Empowering Citizens
What is the current state of affairs? Can we truly understand the historical trajectory, conceptual framework, and societal transformations occurring in our contemporary era, particularly in Europe? We are faced with challenges to fundamental European values, a disillusioned youth, and decision-makers grappling with reconciling sweeping changes, a need to come from profit seeking mentalities to foster continuity and established political mechanisms. In light of this, we must ponder the instructive role of artists in shaping the lives of citizens. How does the artist, the cultural institution and the interaction with the academic world contribute to citizenship education, the building of communities and the formation of social spaces? To engage in a meaningful discourse on strengthening European identity, we must place civic education and culture at the heart of our deliberations.
Amidst a fast-paced world, shrinking temporal horizons, and growing polarization, how can we forge ahead? The answer lies in acceptance of civic responsibilities and dialogue, the antidotes to fundamentalism and exclusion. Unfortunately, genuine communication and understanding are often truncated to mere exchanges and condemnations. This predicament stems from our collective uncertainty surrounding European identity. Neither fear-driven self-assurance through demarcation nor hate-filled ideologies nor the rejection of any discourse or argumentation lead to the authentic development of one's identity. This principle holds true not only for Europe but for the entire world. Such approaches may offer temporary unity at best. However, a sustainable path forward emerges when rooted in an identity centered on culture and foundational values. Only when the citizens of Europe cultivate and embrace a European value orientation guaranteed by the European Treaties and the umbrella of the European Court of Justice can they effectively position themselves vis-à-vis others and view otherness as a source of enrichment. Rather than striving for a European ideology, what the cultural, educational and artistic world can contribute is a practice of dialogue that acknowledges and promotes the diversity, especially the quality of to be found in Europe's regions, ideas, and people while the joined European values units them through reciprocal exchange.
Transparency, comprehension, coherence, and verifiability form the bedrock of fruitful dialogue. Another essential aspect involves direct engagement with culture. Like dialogue itself, culture highlights the mutually enriching dynamics between one's own heritage and that of others. The key to the success of Europe's nature being a union of member states and citizens lies in fostering informal and permanent exchange of ideas and practices, prioritizing (civic) education and culture, through facilitating European Citizenship
The assembled expert panel seeks to ignite precisely such a transformative process. Going beyond national boundaries and disciplinary confines, it aims to inspire subsequent initiatives, projects, and discussions. It takes into account the distinct demands, expectations, and limitations of each partner organization from the outset, fostering equitable collaboration from the conceptual stage onwards.