Director Amy Colin

Two World Wars, the Cold War, mass murders, in particular the Shoah, and numerous violent conflicts deeply scarred the twentieth century. As it drew to a close, violent nationalism, racism, and fundamentalism spread once again, turning political, ethnic, and religious conflicts into wars. At the start of the new millennium, people hoped for a time of peace. But the phantoms of nationalism, fanaticism, and racism came back to haunt the present. The terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the resulting War against terrorism, and the looming danger of subsequent violence, including biological warfare have triggered new anxieties about the future and destabilized world economy. The resulting unrest deepened already existing prejudices, hate, and animosities. These destructive forces are at work not only in states lacking civil freedom and countries stigmatized by economic poverty and social duress, but also in prosperous democracies. Individuals and communities therefore need to comprehend the political, social, economic, and cultural causes and consequences of these destructive forces in order to combat them and enable others to fight against them. Education and learning are crucial means of realizing these objectives. Education can inscribe into the consciousness of people the significance of humaneness, mutual respect, and receptivity to other cultures. But in order to comprehend the utmost necessity of these fundamental values as preconditions for peaceful human coexistence, both individuals and communities need to understand the intricate ways in which prejudices, racism, and anti-Semitism are at work in contemporary societies.

COMBATING PREJUDICES, RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM THROUGH EDUCATION will bring together scholars from different disciplines and countries in order to discuss, develop, and implement innovative strategies of teaching and learning about prejudices, racism, and anti-Semitism as motor of a „war against the other,“ ranging from violence to genocide. The project’s focal concern is inextricably linked to a second crucial topic: education about humaneness, mutual respect, and receptivity to other cultures as preconditions for the peaceful coexistence of people in any community. The project will center on the ways in which African, African-American communities, and European Jewish communities experienced and coped with prejudices, animosity, and hatred. It will also discuss genocide from a comparative perspective using the pyramid of hate as a cognitive tool. In making people understand the ways in which prejudices, racism, anti-Semitism, operate and affect both the individual and the communities, the project hopes to help counteract them and make a contribution to the safeguarding of peaceful coexistence in different communities.

The project addresses faculty members, teachers from different high-schools, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as the broad public. The project therefore includes: a) an international conference open to the public; and b) seminars, workshops, and a long-term training program. The results of the project will be published and distributed to a broad public.