Universiteit Leiden

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This is an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project of Leiden Law School with University of Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Project details

Leiden University coordinator:

  • Leiden Law School, project coordinator: Nadia Sonneveld

Partner institution:

  • University of Sarajevo

Type of mobility:

  • Staff exchange

Project duration:

  • 2020-2023

Project summary

Teaching Peace involves the exchange of teaching staff from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo (UNSA) and Leiden Law School (LLS). It is part of the University Peace Hubs initiative, which focuses on the role of universities in peacebuilding, launched in October 2018 by a larger international network of universities from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Rwanda and the UK (see below). Building on our extensive expertise in education on peace pedagogies (UNSA) and the rule of law (LLS), the main goal is to enhance both staff and student understanding of post-conflict peacebuilding in general, and in Bosnia-Herzegovina in particular, in a complementary manner. Other goals are to investigate the possibilities for student exchange, to exchange good teaching practices and to focus on developing further joint research projects.

Building the rule of law is frequently presented by academics, donors and governments as a panacea for reconstruction and national development in countries that are trying to come to terms with the effects of severe conflict. In the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, rule of law initiatives abound and usually aim at supporting the criminal justice system in dealing with serious and sensitive crimes related to the Bosnian conflict (1992-1995). In this scenario, judges and other legal professionals are presented as agents of peace. The question is: are they? Or do we need a more comprehensive approach, which also looks at other categories of actors instrumental in promoting peace and stability?

The role of universities in teaching peace

While there is consensus among academics, donors and governments that universities also play a unique role in conflict prevention and resolution, this role remains poorly understood and insufficiently explained. Teachers as agents of peace? This question is very important in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the end of the war saw the introduction of ethnically segregated schools. However, the question is also important in the Netherlands, where cultural and religious diversity result in social tensions, and teachers at all levels are confronted with increasingly diverse – but not necessarily inclusive – classrooms. How can we promote the social responsibility of teachers to play this critical role in the (re)building and (re)construction of understanding and solidarity in culturally and religiously diverse societies?

Project goals

The staff exchange serves the following goals:

1—To enable students and staff of peace pedagogy to acquire a better understanding of the rule of law in peacebuilding initiatives, and to enable students of law and law staff to acquire a better understanding of the role that universities and teachers can play in promoting peacebuilding and reconciliation;

2—To prepare the ground for student exchange between the partner institutions in two ways: (a) UNSA exchange staff will receive training in Leiden on improving the infrastructure and administration for international student exchange; (b) LLS will further develop Empirical Legal Studies: in Sarajevo, LLS staff will explore the potential of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a site for empirical legal research by meeting with UNSA colleagues who have extensive experience in leading field projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina;

3—To exchange good teaching practices. In Sarajevo, LLS staff will follow a teacher training course (including classroom observations) on intercultural and interreligious teaching. This will give them tools to respond to increasingly diverse student populations and create inclusive classrooms;

4—To exchange staff from different academic backgrounds, thus forming the basis for long-term cooperation between our institutions and facilitating the incorporation of Leiden Law School and Leiden University within the University Peace Hubs: Pedagogies for Peacebuilding in Higher Education initiative, of which the University of Sarajevo is one of the founders. University Peace Hubs is a comparative and multi-institutional project, featuring partners from Bosnia-Herzegovina (UNSA); Colombia (Los Andes); Rwanda (University of Rwanda); and the UK (IDS, Sussex). As universities are both central to local knowledge ecosystems and internationally networked, they are ideal platforms to support and disseminate co-constructed understandings of conflict, which challenge dominant conflict framings and deliver contextually relevant approaches to peace.

The complementarity of the partner institutions and the multiple objectives of the planned mobility exchange provide strong support for the internationalisation strategies of both universities.

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