Panel 4

Addressing educational inequalities and building solidarities across EU-Turkey borders

November 12, 2020
16:00 – 17:30 (Germany)
/ 17:00 – 18:30 (Greece) / 18:00 – 19:30 (Turkey)

In light of the current multiplication of inter- and supranational educational actors and donors, the strengthening of a global discourse on human rights education, and the EU-Turkey agreement, new spaces for solidarity-based actions in education are emerging—be it in the form of so-called sanctuary cities, international networks of educators, self-organizations of “migrants” and “refugees,” or transnational art education projects. In many of these spaces, alternative educational approaches focusing on the experiences of marginalized groups are practiced that challenge mainstream diversity approaches in state education institutions.

Against the background of globalized dynamics of change—such as the pandemic, the growing success of racist movements, and neo-liberal transformations—we ask how an understanding of solidarity can be exercised across national borders that allows us to identify and address the increasing complexity of global, national, and local educational inequalities. We further ask: Which challenges arise in cross-border networks when discussing and developing common ideas and attitudes on inclusive education? How can an understanding of educational justice be developed across national categories and borders without neglecting the influence of nation-state discourses on educational processes? How can inter- and transnational civil society alliances be encouraged without removing governments and state actors from responsibility when it comes to creating inclusive educational spaces?


Aila Spathopoulou

is a human geographer with a PhD from King’s College, University of London, whose research focuses on the border regime in Greece. She has co-authored, with Anna Carastathis and Myrto Tsilimpounidi, articles on the Greek hotspot regime, which have been published in “Geopolitics, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space,” and “Refuge: Canada's Journal on Refugees” journals. She is co-director of the Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research. She is also a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Politics and International Relations and Goldsmiths University of London and a researcher in the strategic partnership funded by Erasmus+, “BRIDGES: Building inclusive societies: diversifying knowledge and tackling discrimination through civil society participation in universities.”


Ayça Polat

has studied Intercultural Education and Social Sciences at the University of Oldenburg and completed her PhD in Social Sciences (topic: Integration and exclusion processes of second generation Turkish migrants in Germany). After her PhD she was a fellow at the Centre for Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies at the University of Toronto. After several years as a research assistant at the University of Oldenburg, she worked for seven years as integration commissioner for the city of Oldenburg and was responsible for the support and care of refugees. Since 2015, she is a professor at the Kiel University of Applied Sciences with a focus on migration and diversity. As part of her research activities, she has evaluated the concepts of supply and care for refugees by welfare organizations in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Ayça will speak on How to foster educational justice and solidarity networks across borders.

Fazilet Mıstıkoğlu

works as a research associate at the cultural policy studies unit of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts” (İKSV). Since joining the team in 2017, she has been assisting the research and editing of various publications by the department, including annual cultural policy reports. She is also responsible for the editorial groundwork of meetings, workshops, and conferences organized by the department. Fazilet previously worked for Pegasus Publishing House in Istanbul between 2015 and 2017, translating various novels from English to Turkish. She has a BA in Western Languages and Literatures from Boğaziçi University.

Caner Soyulmaz

has been working as a project assistant at İKSV Cultural Policy Studies Department since June 2020. He graduated from the Department of Philosophy at Boğaziçi University and completed his graduate studies at the Department of Cinema and Television at Istanbul Bilgi University. He had worked on drama projects with migrant children within the scope of Boğaziçi University Ayvalık Summer School project and continued to work on art projects with children and young people at İKSV Alt Kat: Learning and Interaction Space” between September 2018 and June 2020.

Fazilet and Caner will speak on “The unifying power of arts: Challenges and prospects for international collaboration in arts education.”

Beril Sönmez

has studied psychological counseling, followed by cultural studies in Boğaziçi University, with a special focus on her thesis on the production of space, performance, and art as a methodology and participatory practice. She worked for seven years as a TA in the Sociology Department at İstanbul Bilgi University and joined several cross-disciplinary projects. She also collaborated with several cultural institutions, international art and film festivals as a freelance translator and editor. Beril has been active in “Refugees – We Are- Neighbors” and other collectives and solidarity networks. In her PhD research, she focuses on the displacement-emplacement experiences and multilayered relationalities of refugees and non-refugees in their everyday place-making practices in Istanbul. Beril is currently working with Anadolu Kültür and has been coordinating the German-Turkish Initiative for Collaboration on Refugee Relief since 2017, where she is contributing to and facilitating the co-creation of alternative pedagogies and materials to support a more inclusive culture of living together.

Birte Gooßes

is a social worker and project manager in diverse areas of social and educational work. She gained a social pedagogy degree from Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University and has worked abroad in Russia, Sweden, and Ireland. In addition to the practical work in youth welfare services, Birte established an international voluntary program for a subsidiary of a German Red Cross association and was part of a team organizing European exchange programs for trained social workers and cooperating with various organizations like the Armée du Salut Paris/Diaconia Valdese. Four years ago, following her role as an administrator/counselor of a refugee housing unit, she began working as a project coordinator for the German-Turkish Initiative for Collaboration on Refugee Relief, where she develops resources to strengthen solidarity, multilingualism, and cultural heritage. Beyond that, she offers workshops on more inclusive approaches to teaching and learning and methods to strengthen solidarity in diverse learning spaces for professionals in education.

Beril and Birte will speak on “Negotiating perspectives, understandings and practices around inclusion in (non)-formal education: The challenge of building common grounds in times of deepening inequalities.”

Saraya Gomis

teaches and learns, and is an honorary member of the board at “Each One Teach One eV.”. She will speak on “Interlinking activism against (racial) discrimination on the structural, institutional and individual level: The example of 'Each One Teach One', a community-based education and empowerment project in Berlin”


Albert Scherr

is professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Education Freiburg/Germany. He received his PhD in Sociology from Frankfurt University in 1985 and his postdoctoral lecturing and research qualification in general sociology from Universität Karlsruhe in 2008. Previously he worked as a social worker (1985 to 1989), as a research assistant at Bielefeld University (1989 to 1990), and as a professor of sociology and social work at the University of Applied Sciences (1991 to 2000). His research and publications span the fields of migration, especially forced migration and flight, theories of society, sociology od education, discrimination and racism.

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