The project “History Education in the Context of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and its Resolution” has 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 Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The first workshop of the historians engaged in the project took place in Humboldt University in Berlin on October 26-28, 2013. During the workshop, 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.
Since our work has been focusing on critically analyzing the role of history education in contributing to the conflicts in the South Caucasus in general, parallel to this project, the Imagine Center was also running another one called “History Education in the Context of Georgian-South-Ossetian Relations”. 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 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 Azerbaijani and Armenian Working Groups and the Georgian and South Ossetian Working Groups met and had joint sessions in Istanbul on March 14-16, 2014.
Upon returning home from the meeting, the Armenian and Azerbaijani Working Groups held local meetings sharing the contents and results of the Istanbul 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.
Next a meeting was held in Tbilisi on August 8-11 2014 followed by a Symposium on August 10, 2014 hosting a considerable number of other colleagues from the South Caucasus, including Azerbaijani and Armenian history teachers as well as international experts. The aim of the first part of the Symposium was to present the project to the audience and to gather feedback on the work done particularly focusing on the Manual. The focus of the second part was on the Supplemental History Lessons and the practical applications of the principles outlined in the Manual. For the final part of the Symposium, the participants engaged into discussions on how to continue advancing reforms in the approaches to historiography and history education in the South Caucasus.
After the August Symposium, the Working Groups proceeded with the planning of the piloting of the Supplemental History Lessons. The Working Groups held small local workshops for history teachers and prepared a schedule for piloting the Lessons. Up to date the lessons have been piloted in two schools in Azerbaijan and two in Armenia and have received positive feedback. 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.