History that Connects

About the Project

This project is one of the 2010 WISE Awards finalists.

In the 1990s, the wars in the countries of Former Yugoslavia disrupted life in the region immensely. After peace agreements were signed, communication and mutual understanding between the different societies had to be rebuilt. How to teach history became a formidable challenge. 

EUROCLIO, the European Association of History Educators, took on this challenge in 2003 and embarked on a joint project with history educators from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. This was the start of the History that Connects program. The program aims to improve history education in the Western Balkans in such a way that it furthers peace, democracy, tolerance and critical thinking. 

Educators in the region work together towards developing inclusive and multi-perspective materials on the sensitive history of the region. The development of the material can be understood as an intense competencies-building course and be used as the basis for an alternative approach for national curricula. The program helps build the capacity of national History Teacher Associations in the region as active civil society organizations. It enhances their professionalism and strengthens their sustainability.

Context and Issue

There is a need for greater innovative expertise in the teaching and learning of history in the region, especially with a cross-border focus, empowering dialogue and critical thinking on sensitive topics in recent history. The educational material developed addresses sensitive issues of the shared history of the Balkans, respecting the victims without burdening future generations with feelings of mistrust and hatred.

Without high quality and professionalism, history curricula, history textbooks and history teachers’ training may continue to be a dividing force in the region.

Solution and Impact

The educational material developed addresses sensitive issues of the shared history of the Balkans, respecting the victims without burdening future generations with feelings of mistrust and hatred. The program is also required as it helps develop a bottom-up understanding of European standards for competence-based education, as laid out in the European Reference Framework of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, also relevant for innovative learning in history classes. This aspect of the projects is a concrete contribution to the comprehensive integration of the region within the European Union.

The project’s success relies mainly on the three following strengths:

1. History Educators are made aware of the responsibility they carry for peace, stability and democracy through empowerment, capacity building and structured dialogue.

2. Ready-to-use teaching material is developed, tried and tested, and published by and for the education community.

2. A new generation of history teacher trainers is trained and able to develop their influence on the system sustainably.

 In terms of impact, the History that Connects program includes several completed projects:

  • Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia: Shared History (2000-2003)
  • Former Yugoslavia: Understanding a Shared Past, Learning for the Future (2003)
  • History in Action (2005-2008)
  • Macedonia: Retelling the History (2006-2007)
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bridging Histories (2009-2010)
  • How to Teach Sensitive Topics in Macedonia (2011-2012)

So far, the project’s method has been adopted by sister associations in the South Caucasus, Lebanon and Cyprus.

Future Developments

In the next five years, the project is planning on developing the following:

  • Editing 22 teaching modules focused on sensitive and controversial topics of history in the region during the period 1900-1945. The result will be ready-to-use classroom material in all languages of the countries involved. 
  • Publication and launch of the newly developed education tool in Macedonia in April 2014.  
  • Integration of seven teaching modules in the online multimedia educational tool developed by EUROCLIO Historiana.
  • Strengthening and improving relations with ministries of education and other key institutions in the participating countries. 
  • Identifying new project opportunities that address sensitive topics in the shared history of the Balkans, possibly the 90s.
April 26, 2010 (last update 12-22-2020)