On 1 February 2018, Ulster University, in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, hosted the 5th UK UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Network Colloquium.
The event saw UNESCO Chairs from across the UK come together to share ideas and exchange best practice, and to learn from Northern Ireland's world leading research in the field of education.
The Colloquium also served as a joint celebration of the two UNESCO Chairs in Northern Ireland, Professor Alan Smith of Ulster University and Professor Joanne Hughes of Queen’s University.
Ulster’s UNESCO Chair is now the longest established in the UK, and has been held by Professor Smith throughout its twenty year existence. During this time, he has become a leading voice in the field of education and conflict, working with major organisations such as UNICEF, the British Council, and the Council of Europe.
The previous evening a reception was held in The Great Hall, Queen’s University Belfast, to celebrate the work of UNESCO in Northern Ireland. Representatives from the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the two local UNESCO World Heritage sites (the Giants’ Causeway and the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark) came together to celebrate Northern Ireland’s unique connection to UNESCO.
Additionally, the event launched a new film showcasing the outstanding work of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark.
The reception featured addresses from Dr Beth Taylor, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO; Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University; and Professor James McElnay, Acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s.
Speaking about the Colloquium and reception event, Professor Smith said:
We were delighted to welcome our friends and colleagues from UNESCO to Northern Ireland. We were honoured to be hosting the 5th UK UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Network Colloquium, and we had a constructive day sharing research practice and ideas with our colleagues. It was an excellent opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences, and to strengthen the ties that have been developed through the Network.
UNESCO does outstanding work in Northern Ireland, and I am delighted that we were able to celebrate their success and their contribution to the local area.
Our thanks go out to UNESCO UK for a superbly organised two days, and we look forward to working closely with them in the future.