10.03.2014 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

UNESCO Chair on Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue and Memory studies may soon be established at Kufa University

A major step towards greater academic cooperation and better cultural dialogue in Iraq will be the creation of a special UNESCO chair on "interreligious and intercultural dialogue and memory studies" at the University of Kufa in Najaf, which was on the agenda of a recent meeting organized by the UNESCO Office for Iraq.


Following the initial launch of this innovative programme, UNESCO organized a one-day workshop to review and discuss the general background of the project and the modalities of creating the Chair. Also on the agenda were the formalities that are needed to apply to UNESCO in order to join the UNITWIN programme and network, a special Chairs programme that promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.

Officials from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Baghdad, including the Director General of Research and Development, Mohamed Al-Sarraj; deans of colleges of from the University of Koufa, namely the colleges of jurisprudence, heritage and antiquities, law, political science, education, girls education, and basic education, as well as the project focal manager Mohamed Al-Kuraishi attended the event, that was held on 9 March 2014 in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Participants discussed and agreed on a number of critical issues and recommendations that are vital for the implementation of the programme, including:

· Inter-university cooperation and exchange of lecturers;

· Developing a work plan with a clear calendar for future workshops, seminars and regional and international conferences;

· Foster publication of related papers in internationals journals; and

· Curricula development of subjects and courses related to the Chair.

Furthermore, in a decisive step to further advance the establishment of the Chair, participants agreed on developing a draft application to be reviewed and submitted before April 30, 2014.

"It was a very successful meeting", stated Al-Sarraj. "Implementing and following up on these recommendations will have great results and speed up the whole process", he added.

The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO's fields of competence. Higher Education and Culture sectors within UNESCO Office for Iraq are leading an initiative to establishing a similar Chair at the University of Kufa on "Interreligious/intercultural Dialogue and Memory studies". This project would allow for the University of Kufa to be part of global network of higher education and research institutions pooling their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies.

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