'Citizenship and Identity: socio-economic inequality, political identity and participation'. Reflections on the 2014 Five Nations Conference in Belfast (1)
By Suzie Pugh, Lecturer, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Wales
Having been invited to the Five Nations Network conference in Edinburgh last year, I was thrilled to attend the 15th annual conference in Belfast. Sharing ideas, resources and experiences across a range of educational practitioners was once again inspiring.
What I love about the Network is the absence of competition amongst practitioners. There is a genuine sharing of common goals; from teachers exploring citizenship with very young learners in an Early Years context, to HE lecturers collaborating with postgraduate students to embed the theoretical principles in daily practice.
For me, the keynote speech from Professor Peter Shirlow (Queen's University Belfast) was a highlight. His expertise, coupled with a wonderfully engaging style of delivery, meant that he had all delegates fixated. He highlighted the complexities of Ireland’s political journey whilst offering truly insightful steps for a progressive narrative. A key message underlined the need for identities to be secure and articulated appropriately. I think it’s fair to say that through exploring the many layers of complex identities, a deeper understanding and tolerance can be fostered.