Marie-Parker Jenkins Abstract

TITLE: ‘Education in Times of Fear: Issues of equality, identity and belonging’

From the Charlie Hebdo shooting and Bataclan theatre attack in Paris to attacks in Germany, Holland and London, people are concerned about national security and ‘the enemy within’. This is part of a wider debate about multiculturalism in Europe, religious versus secular traditions, the fear of terrorism and a trend towards assimilation.The issue  is unlikely to go away as  the  debate  has  been  injected  with  new  life in  the  post-Syrian,  Brexit  and  Trump  era with persistent negative portrayal of minority ethnic groups such as Muslim communities and immigrants.

Ireland, along with other European countries, has agreed to receive refugee and asylum seeker families and the integration of children from these communities is becoming a feature of school life. How well prepared is the education community to respond to the latest group of arrivals in this climate of hostility and suspicion, and what research helps us understand key issues of equality, identity and a sense of belonging? This keynote explores these emerging themes and the implications for policy, practice and research in developing ‘the inclusive school’ and acceptance of ‘the Other’.

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 Marie-Parker Jenkins is Professor of Education in the Department of Education and Professional Studies, researching issues of social justice with particular reference to human rights law, “race” and ethnicity. Before having an academic career in the UK, she taught in Bermuda and Canada where she obtained practical knowledge of children from culturally diverse backgrounds. She is the author of over 100 publications including books, reports and journal articles. Her research has included study of the expansion of religious schools, particularly those based on an Islamic and Jewish ethos; and in her consultancy capacity, she has provided workshops on such subjects as citizenship, community and identity. She has taught in six universities before coming to Limerick, and her current research is concerned with social justice issues within the Irish context.