Queen’s University, Belfast, has launched a free online programme, titled ‘Identity, Conflict and Public Space: Contest and Transformation. The six-week programme, developed by Dominic Bryan, director, School of History and Anthropology, Queen’s University, focuses on the use of public space to express identity.
“The broad theme of the course is to study the nature of group conflicts in public spaces. Additionally, public expression of a group identity and recognition of that identity is an important aspect of modern democratic politics too. The mismanagement of this aspect of the society at the political sphere inevitably results in conflict. The course identifies the power of demonstrations, parades, religious occasions and other such events and attempts to find out why the sense of social identity is important to human beings,” says Bryan.
The online programme is supported by popular leftwing liberal organisations – the Orange Order and Coiste na nlarchimi. The faculty for the course includes Mervyn Gibson, grand chaplain of the Orange Order, and Seanna Walsh, legacy officer, Coiste na nlarchimi, and Peter Osborne, chair of the Community Relations Council.
Elaborating on the effects of identity related issues across the world, Bryan adds, “The role of ethnic identity is common in developing and developed countries. We can see the same types of conflict in public spaces in America and Europe as much as in parts of Africa and Asia. However, in a developing country, the addition of significant economic inequalities to conflicts over ethnic identity increases the likelihood of high levels of violent conflict .
Even economically prosperous countries such as the UK and Spain have had to deal with ethno-national based conflicts.” The course, although free for all, is ideal for anyone engaged in studying the condition of human lives, including anthropologists, sociologists, social psychologists, political scientists and those involved in conflict resolution, including those in charge of policing and managing public spaces. Subjects that the course deals with include social psychology, anthropology, politics, sociology and history. Delivered through a series of interviews, videos, online surveys, discussion groups, slide shows and animation, the course also makes use of Google Hangouts to engage its participants with educators.
While students will not be required to appear for any exams, they will need to submit ‘digital artefacts’ which are essentially a digital (text with image/audio/ video) compilation of large public gatherings that represent the significance of identity in a society . These artefacts will be, peer reviewed by fellow students . Learners will receive a statement of participation for 24 pounds after the completion of at least 50% of the course. (TOI)