dsc_0068More than thirty students from nineteen Spanish, European, and other international universities from countries including Cuba, are taking part in the course on ‘Cultural policies in Europe in the face of integration challenges: citizen participation, active citizenship, and European identity’. An opening was held today at the Royal Monastery of Yuste, attended by Miriam García Cabezas, General Secretary for Culture.

In her speech, the general secretary talked about how all nations are equal: every nation is affected by people from other lands, “in terms of the customs brought from other lands, monuments from past civilisations, and ways of thinking that we take from the past and today see as our own”. In that same vein, added García Cabezas, we need to nurture the development and cultural enrichment the passing of history brings, “a skill we must put into practice if we want a Europe which continues to be a land of opportunity, a space of continual development and a place where we come up with solutions when faced with conflict”.

For its part, the Regional Government of Extremadura works hard to put on participatory cultural events in which citizenship plays a significant role. Popular theatre, cultural heritage days, and public universities “all of which have a mission to involve the public in the cultural dynamic, and give them a voice in the development process” said the secretary general. She ended the speech saying she hoped the course would result in reaching conclusions as to how institutions, and the public at large, could implement improvements and effective cultural policies which help Europe be a more culturally enriched place.

The University of Extremadura’s History of Art professor, Pilar Mogollón Cano-Cortés, also gave a speech at the opening, discussing the dual purpose of the course: an academic element, in which attendees would work on theory, and a practical element, examining real-life experiences of cultural management.
The three day course is divided into several areas: presentations of current European cultural policies; culture in the European integration process; and finally the role of culture in the face of current challenges. The themes will be discussed by expert speakers, covering complex materials but aiming to “solve the puzzle over the course of the three days”.

The vice-dean of the University of Extremadura, María Isabel López Martínez, said that both the University and the Foundation shared the same standpoint, exemplified by the course itself, in terms of their views on culture and integration in Europe. “Opt for culture, for integration, and for Europe”.
Finally Juan Carlos Moreno Piñero, director of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation invited students to seize on their curiosity: “you have come here ready to learn and with open minds, to immerse yourselves in new ideas”, because Yuste “is not only a physical meeting place, it’s for meetings of minds too, for people who want to teach, and learn”.

The course has been organised by the European Academy of Yuste Foundation together with the ‘Soul for Europe’ initiative and the University of Extremadura with additional collaboration from the European Routes of Emperor Charles V Cooperation Network.