• Final conference of the project "Start the Change"


    Novinarski dom, Perkovčeva 2, Zagreb, Croatia

  • Project coordinators meeting in Zagreb, Croatia

    About 'starting the change'!

    The aim of project was to support young people and their teachers to initiate intercultural and peace building projects focused on preventing radicalization and developing sensitivity and mutual appreciation.

    Since radicalization most often happens in a context of deprivation (weather economic or psychological), within search for meaning and identity, but is also fueled by personal issues and/or need for revenge, the project focused on developing and nurturing the opposite values and capacities: psychological thriving, emotional development and self-regulation, civic competences, positive attitudes towards differences as well as multi-perspective understanding of the world.

    Therefore, the activities developed aimed for young people and teachers to find personal satisfaction, respect, acceptance, and feeling of positive engagement that inspires action for a constructive goal, to develop critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the world we live in, to build connectedness, assertiveness, strong and positive relationships and a support network and to feel desire to make positive changes realistically and constructively in their school and local communities.



  • Conference speakers

    Find out more about the guest speakers

    Michalis Kakos

    Leeds Beckett University, UK

    Michalis Kakos is a Reader in Education in Leeds Beckett University, UK and conducts his research at the University’s Center for Research and Innovation in Childhood, Education and Society. His research interests include: citizenship and inclusive education, professionalism and institutionalisation in education. Michalis is a Visiting Professor of the Freiburg University of Education (Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg), a member of the Advisory Board of the Networking Citizenship Education in Europe initiative (NECE) of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, bpb) and an expert member of The European Wergeland Centre (www.theewc.org).

    Bojana Ćulum

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, ​University of Rijeka, Croatia

    Bojana Ćulum gained her PhD and MSc in higher education at the University of Rijeka, where she works as Associate Professor, at the Department of Education. She was Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Portland State University, Graduate School of Education during the 2015/2016 academic year where she was a principle investigator on the research project “Community-based Learning: Narratives on Transforming Academic Identities”. As a researcher, expert and educator, she is engaged in several collaborative European projects focused on service-learning, university-community engagement, school volunteering and sustainable citizenship. She has a keen theoretical and research interest in community-based learning, the concepts of community engagement, university civic mission, engaged university, citizenship education, volunteering, and youth work. Her teaching follows community-based learning pedagogy. She collaborates frequently with various civil society organisations, institutions and local authorities on community-based projects where she engages her students as well.

    Manju Patel-Nair

    Changemakers UnLimited, UK

    Manju Patel-Nair is an independent trainer and consultant, with a passion for creative cross-cultural collaboration. She works across various fields encompassing youth participation, race & resistance, and interfaith dialogue. As a global citizenship practitioner Manju’s work centers on pedagogies for ‘community building.’ This includes bringing diverse groups of people into shared spaces, particularly around controversial issues, to engage hearts and minds and create change within communities. Manju has extensive experience of delivering cross curricular global citizenship projects and teacher training for schools globally.

  • Workshops facilitators

    Faaria Ahmad

    Programme Manager at Think Global, UK


    Faaria will facilitate the workshop and an interactive discussion ‘Re-writing our Narrative: Social Media, Identity and Critical Thinking’.​

    Vidjaya Thelen

    Project Manager at Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci”, Italy​

    Vidjaya will facilitate the workshop 'How to foster equality and change in the classroom? Inspiration from the life and work of Danilo Dolci'.

    Mario Bajkuša

    Program Development Manager at Forum for Freedom in Education, Croatia

    Mario will facilitate workshop 'Why and how we need to teach about populism in schools'.

    Karmen Kukovič

    Manager of Youth Center of Dravinja Valley, Slovenia


    Karmen will facilitate workshop 'Hours of intercultural dialogue'.



    Find out more about the lectures & workshops


    Education for democracy: The development of affective commitment to rational dialogue

    Michalis Kakos, Leeds Beckett University, UK

    Our thinking and expectations from citizenship education is often indicative of a decontextualized understanding of education and of the expectation that by teaching about certain subjects and by applying certain teaching methods we should be able to attain certain educational aims. Practices based on this understanding often disregard not only the wider context within which formal education operates but also the significance of parallel messages that are conveyed to students via hidden and overt curricula and which are often contradictory to our aims. Many of the plans to educate students in democracy and in peaceful resolution are suggestive of a belief that democratic attitudes can be developed together with the improvement of students’ listening skills, the growth of respect to others’ opinions and to diversity and that these are the direct results of students’ engagement in rational exchange of views and in critical analysis of opinions. What seem to elude us is that education in general and citizenship education in particular often relies upon and often strengthens exactly the same attitudes which it then calls students to control when they are engaged in classroom explorations of social and political issues, including extremism.

    This lecture will be an attempt to bring up and discuss some of the contradictory practices in citizenship education by paying attention to the affective (emotional) aspect of citizenship and visiting some theoretical discussions about difference, belonging and identity.



    'The most important thing we can teach our kids is for them to believe they can truly be the agents of change': Narratives of teachers engaged in civic education

    Bojana Ćulum, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Rijeka, Croatia

    In their very recent report 'Education and Training Monitor 2018 - Country Analysis', The European Commission has (kindly) reminded us about the state of the art of citizenship education in Croatia. No surprise there…we’re not doing well. Thus, the report says that "the level of time devoted to citizenship education in Croatia is low and teacher preparation is weak"; that "Croatia provides the fewest hours of citizenship education"; that “there are no specialist or semi-specialist teachers of citizenship education”; that “there are no national regulations on the pedagogical competences in initial teacher education”, and last, but not least, that “Croatian teachers have significantly fewer opportunities to participate in citizenship education trainings”. Now imagine those teachers who have, despite the odds, decided to engage in civic education. Imagine those teachers who have, regardless of the national ‘battlefield’ around the civic education, invested personal time, energy and emotions into civic education to prove the importance as well as the difference of the local. Imagine those teachers who actually want their students to believe they are here to learn how to become the agents of change. Imagine all those teachers who have been on the other side of the EC report mentioned at the beginning. This is a story about them. Twelve teachers from city of Rijeka talk about civic education, their motivation, challenges and the impact their engagement in civic education have had on their own personal and professional identities. While they don’t hide that “tiredness, eye bags and wrinkles” have been some of the effects of their ‘relationship’ with civic education, let us hear their narratives of empowerment and positive social change.


    How do we support young people to be changemakers: developing critical thinking and a social justice outlook

    Manju Patel-Nair, Changemakers UnLimited., UK

    How do we develop pupils to become Global Citizens who, rather than feeling ‘trapped’ by globalization, can instead participate as ‘Agents of Change’? Everyday we have a choice about what we do as Global Citizens – do we actively pursue solutions towards social justice, employ our critical thinking faculties and consider more than just the single story about world events, OR do we allow others to frame all the answers? Global citizenship involves taking risks and encourages critical thinking and resilience.
    Our learners need knowledge, skills and values necessary to be the changemakers. Agency, the ability to achieve goals, is a combination of competence and autonomy. They also need opportunities to take actions towards their goals. In their goal to become resilient and effective in the 21st century educators can provide opportunities to channel students’ positive energies and help them recognize that they are not helpless, that change is possible, and that they can drive it.
    This interactive talk outlines current thinking around global citizenship, youth voice and social enterprise, as well as providing practical 'take-away' activities for you to use back in your classrooms.

    1. Workshop

    ‘Re-writing our Narrative: Social Media, Identity and Critical Thinking’


    Faaria Ahmad, Think Global, United Kingdom

    This interactive workshop aims to explore migration and diaspora communities in the UK and how young people are using social media to create positive platforms to speak for themselves. We will be discussing questions like: What does identity mean? How is social media manipulated to create division in our societies? What is the impact of diversity on the lives of young people? How can social media be used as a platform to get our voices out there? The workshop will also touch upon the findings from UK’s Start the Change research report on Shifting the agenda on education and extremism.


    This workshop’s objectives will be to explore and share the work of changemakers in the UK and to discuss the impact of social media on our ideas related to identity, belonging and migration.

    2. Workshop

    'How to foster equality and change in the classroom? Inspiration from the life and work of Danilo Dolci'

    Vidjaya Thelen, Center for Creative Development "Danilo Dolci", Italy

    Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo “Danilo Dolci” (meaning center for creative development in English) was established based on the experience of social and educational work carried out by Danilo Dolci and his collaborators, which started in Eastern Sicily back in 1952. Danilo Dolci is known as one of the first in Sicily using non-violent methods, fasting and marches for peace, regular denunciations of the mafia-nepotistic system and other revolutionary initiatives such as the so-called “reverse strike”, an independent radio station and the maieutic workshops. These initiatives involved thousands of people, while developing a creative space which fosters awareness and bottom-up planning, paving the way for a real change.
    We can learn much from the approach of Danilo Dolci and during the workshop a part will be dedicated to his life, work and teachings. Then, together with experienced teachers, participants of the workshop can experience first-hand a method that is inspired on Danilo Dolci’s work: circle time. Thanks to this method, the students can have the chance to brainstorm in an equal way, getting the chance to express their opinions while also inspiring others.




    3. Workshop

    'Why and how we need to teach about populism in schools'


    Mario Bajkuša, Forum for Freedom in Education, Croatia

    This workshop’s objective is to explore what the populism is, its causes and key features and most importantly to discuss together why it is important to talk to students about populism.


    The workshop will also provide workshop format that can be implemented in classrooms.


    4. Workshop

    Hours of intercultural dialogue


    Karmen Kukovič, Youth Center of Dravinja Valley, Slovenia

    This workshop will introduce methods that inform youngsters about different minorities and cultures such as Roma, Muslim, migrant, LGBT+, refugees. The methods were developed within the project Young ambassadors of intercultural dialogue (www.mamd.si) and are used within three-hour workshops called Hours of intercultural dialogue.


    The structure of the Hours will be presented and a few micro methods tackling prejudices, stereotypes and discrimination of different minorities. Also the questionnaire regarding the acceptance of diversity will be introduced.


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  • About organizers

    Find out more about 'Start the Change' project partners

    Forum for Freedom in Education

    Forum for Freedom in Education is a well-recognized civil society organisation active since 1992. It works on harmonising the educational system in Croatia with the educational standards of modern democratic societies, guided by the principles of choice and equal access to education that enables the self-realisation of a person.

    Forum's innovative, high-quality programs provide support to teachers and schools, children and youth, university lecturers and professionals working with children and youth in the educational and the social welfare systems. The programs of teaching advancement, civic and health education, skills of non-violent conflict resolution and improvement of school management are designed for those stakeholders.

    The goals of Forum's programs are achieved through professional training seminars and educational activities, studies and analyses, campaigns and creative competitions, as well as through direct work with teachers and schools. Website.


    Think Global

    Think Global is an education charity helping people to understand – and then take action on – global issues. The team at Think Global work to equip people with the knowledge and skills to understand complex global issues like poverty, conflict and migration, so they are able to take action to make the world more just and sustainable. We believe we each have a responsibility, as global citizens, to understand how and why the world is manifestly unjust and unsustainable; and then to decide what action we can and should take, to improve the world for all its people.

    These objectives are achieved through activities like: helping teachers to teach young people about global issues; awareness raising campaigns; and publishing resources and research. The approach is to encourage ‘critical thinking’ – we don’t tell people what to think, we help them develop skills on how to think, so they can make up their own minds. The particular expertise of Think Global is in core areas of global learning practice, including digital training delivery, outcomes analysis and evaluation, and resource creation and curation.

    Website: www.think-global.org.uk

    Youth Center of Dravinja Valley

    Mladinski center Dravinjske doline (Youth centre of Dravinja Valley) is a non-profit youth organization, established in 2003. In 2014 the youth centre has upgraded to social enterprise.

    Mainly MCDD's activities focus on activating youth and including them in active project development and implementation on different levels. The core activities are divided into 4 content pillars: youth centre, cultural event centre Patriot, intergenerational centre and social entrepreneurship incubator Kreaktor.

    Therefore the main activities are youth mobility projects (organizing, hosting and sending), local volunteering promotion and activation, support to other organizations, intercultural dialogue activities, non-formal education modules development, preparation of sport and cultural events and activities for enhancing entrepreneurship skills in our co-working space and youth cooperative Kreaktor.

    Website: http://www.mcdd.si/welcome/

    Center for Creative Development “Danilo Dolci”, Italy

    Centre for Creative Development “Danilo Dolci” is a non-profit association involving young people and adults, which mainly acts through projects in the educational field carried out in cooperation with schools, universities, institutions, associations and social groups both at local and international level.

    Center for Creative Development “Danilo Dolci” was established based on the experience of social and educational work carried out by Danilo Dolci and his collaborators, which started in Eastern Sicily back in 1952. The Centre stemmed from the need of offering the local communities a reality committed to practically solve the problems arisen during regular meetings held with people, and in 1958 it was renamed as Center of Studies and Initiatives for Full Employment, with the purpose of promoting economic and social development of the local territory.

    Website: http://en.danilodolci.org/



  • The project Start the Change and the conference is co-financed by:

    The content of this website does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s).

    This project is co-funded by the Office for
    cooperation with NGOs. The sole responsibility for
    the views expressed on this website lies with the
    Forum for Freedom in Education.

    This project is co-funded by the City of Zagreb. The sole responsibility for
    the views expressed on this website lies with the
    Forum for Freedom in Education.