In April 2018 new ITEM PhD research started on cross-border identity and education:
The Meuse-Rhine Euroregion is a complex cross-border region with diverse cultures and languages (Dutch, German and French). Despite this complexity and the relatively low level of economic, educational and cultural exchanges between the different parts of this region, there is (or at least seems to be) an increasing political and societal will to focus on the Euroregion for the region’s economic and cultural development. The existence, creation or inspiration of a cross-border regional identity could be a precondition for the development of a politically and socially strong Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.
An analysis will be made through this research of the concept of 'regional identity’ in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. The study will mainly focus on South Limburg (NL) and the Belgian Province of Liège. The complexity of a shared identity in the region is represented by major linguistic and cultural differences on the one hand, and a shared economic history and feeling of belonging on the other.
In the analysis an emphasis will be placed on the role of teaching and the centralized Dutch and Belgian education systems in the past, the present as well as the future. Historically education has played an important role in strengthening borders and national versus regional identities. As a result in the past Dutch and Belgian education effectively eliminated the regional identities. Ironically however, through the development of the European Union and economic globalisation, a different trend has emerged and education is now viewed as a motor to strengthen that trend: an emergence in regional identities. Through this research an analysis will be made of current language education in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, and initiatives aimed at increasing the knowledge of the vernacular and culture of one’s neighbour and, thus, increase real human interaction.
The research is interdisciplinary: historic, sociological, economic and legal.