On the 9th on April 2018, across Paris, Almaty, Moscow, Berlin, and several other cities, an online conference on dialogue was held, co-organised by DOC Research Institute. Titled ‘The Concept of Dialogue in the Modern World: Philosophical Understanding and Practical Application,’ the aim of the e-conference was to spark intellectual and academic debate about issues related to the concept of dialogue, and its practical application in our modern, interconnected world.
The first online conference was held in 2017 and featured the DOC Research Institute’s research on the philosophical roots of intercultural dialogue developed and presented by Prof. Marietta Stepanyants, Chief Research Fellow and Chair of the UNESCO project, ‘Philosophy in the Dialogue of Cultures’, at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The discussion was focused on a flagship project ‘Schools of the Dialogue of Cultures’, which consists of an online-platform and textbook for schoolchildren, and a workbook for teachers. The platform, textbook, and workbook are aimed at boosting practical knowledge about different cultures and civilisations and expanding the understanding of the philosophical approach to understand intercultural dialogue.
The programme developed by Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, UNESCO, and DOC Research Institute is aimed at schoolchildren of grades 9 to 12 and is focused on the basic values of civilisations and cultures, promoting respect for other cultures and traditions. The programme also helps to develop skills to participate in dialogue with representatives of other cultures. In order to be implemented successfully, courses for teachers are also essential. With the purpose of the practical implementation and dissemination of the gained experience, courses for teachers under the title ‘Intercultural dialogue in teaching’ were opened in the Research and Education Center at Institute of Philosophy of the RAS. The programme is available for a Russian-speaking audience, however there are plans to include an English version in the future.
In 2018, the speakers at the e-conference continued exploring the concept of dialogue and its meanings across cultures. Participants introduced different approaches to theoretical and practical applications of the principles of dialogue, with a particular emphasis on sharing best practices in intercultural dialogue in the secondary and higher education system. Many innovative ideas and tools were introduced which capable to provide intercultural understanding and raising dialogue skills and awareness, which are crucial, and essential for addressing issues of social cohesion and preventing and ending the spread of violence and intolerance. The work accomplished by UNESCO through ‘International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022)’ programme is remarkable. The UNESCO programme refers to mapping, research, advocacy, and coordination, but they should also take into account the context of each locality. However, additional attention to the practical implementation of intercultural educational programmes in schools should be strengthened. Implementing intercultural education at different levels could be used as a practical tool for rapprochement of the cultures, if given priority in schools.
Lack of intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding remains one of the most serious, yet overlooked, issues that the global community is facing today. If solved, it could contribute to peacemaking efforts and the ensure the sustainable development of Humanity. Therefore, the DOC Research Institute welcomes all concerned parties and stakeholders to contribute by sharing their ideas on the development of the ‘Intercultural dialogue’ education programme.
 The conference was co-organised in partnership by: UNESCO Associated Schools in Almaty; Network of UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs “Intercultural Dialogue for Interreligious Understanding”; UNESCO Center for the Rapprochement of Cultures (Almaty); Partner UNESCO Chairs in Almaty (Faculty of Journalism of KazNU named al-Farabi, KazNPU named Abay); Institute Sorbonne-Kazakhstan (ISK); UNESCO Headquarters, the Program on Social Transformations and Intercultural Dialogue (Paris), Regional UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan; Kazakhstan-Indian Foundation (Almaty) Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (Berlin, Moscow).