The Seminar on Identity and Education Across the Mediterranean

On October 26-30, 2006, the University of the Middle East Project inaugurated its Seminar on Identity and Education Across the Mediterranean (IDEAmed) in Sevilla, Spain. The seminar convened a group of secondary school teachers from across the Mediterranean region to explore and deepen their understanding of identity and its relation to school culture, classroom practice, pedagogy and curriculum. So that the program would further students’ understanding as well as their teachers’ pedagogies, program participants were also required to develop an educational activity for their students touching on issues such as class, religion, gender, and ethnic and cultural narratives.

Program goals

Designed to increase respect for diversity and promote inclusive classrooms and schools that provide quality education for all students, IDEAmed set the following immediate goals:

  • To promote and deepen participants’ understanding of identity as fluid, complex and socially constructed, and to explore the implications of this understanding for classroom practice
  • To explore how the complex and diverse identities of students and teachers interact and shape the knowledge constructed in the classroom
  • To identify spaces for high school teachers to contribute to creating and maintaining more inclusive classrooms and schools


Participants and faculty

The 2006 IDEAmed had 20 participants, including 16 Teacher Education Institute alumni from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and four educators representing the Euro-Mediterranean nations of Spain, France and Italy.

The IDEAmed faculty was an academic team of five distinguished Euro-Mediterranean scholars, experts in pedagogy whose academic and professional work addresses identity from a variety of theoretical and methodological frameworks and topic areas. Faculty members were as follows:

Yamila HusseinAcademic Director, IDEAmed, Harvard University
Lena BahouSocial Studies and Women’s Studies, Lebanon
Miranda ChristouSociology of Education, University of Cyprus
Teresa Sordé MartíRomà Studies Centre, University of Barcelona
Hassan OuzzateAmazigh Linguistics, Ibn Zohr University

IDEAmed was also honored to have Ramón Flecha, Professor of Sociology at the University of Barcelona and Director of the University’s CREA Center for research into inequality, as a keynote speaker.


The 2006 IDEAmed began with a daylong conference designed to provide a theoretical framework for the program. In the conference, the faculty and Dr. Flecha delivered six presentations to program participants on cultural and social forces in the classroom and strategies for transcending prejudice.


Program participants rated the perspectives developed in the seminar as extremely valuable and applicable to their teaching. In the words of one participant:

IDEAmed was a turning point for me regarding how I conceive both what I teach and how I teach it; it provided me with tools to scrutinize what is said and what is left unsaid in the textbook as well as in the classroom.

In addition, 15 student activities focused on issues of identity have been or are being implemented in program participants’ schools.

UME is currently raising funds to implement another IDEAmed program in the future.

The 2006 IDEAmed was made possible by the generous support of the following partners: