Werner Wintersteiner

Primary Photo

Affiliated Organizations
  • Retired Professor of German Didactics, Klagenfurt University, Austria
  • Former Director of the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education, Klagenfurt University
  • Member of the leadership team of the Master Program Global Citizenship Education
  • Board member, Herbert C. Kelman Institute for Interactive Conflict Transformation (HKI)

What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

What is my context? As a world citizen, I am concerned not only with issues in my region, but with our homeland Earth. However, my foci are current problems in my country, Austria, as well as in our transnational border region (Alps-Adriatic = Austria, Italy, Slovenia…) and finally the European Union. I am dealing with three issues – migrants and refugees; climate crisis, and memory conflicts, dating back to World War I, but shaping also all current questions… In my peace education work, I try to address all these issues both individually and collectively. For instance, issues are collectively addressed in our University master programme “Global Citizenship Education”, whereas there are instances which issues are tackled individually such as in my participation with a youth group at an alternative event to COP 25 in Madrid in December 2019. When doing practical things, I always try also to write papers upon them. What gets me going through good and bad moments? The feeling of not being alone, of having fellow peace educators who cooperate with me, who need my expertise, as I need their knowledge and encouragement.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

Fortunately, there were some encouraging moments which helped me believe that my work makes sense and is useful to others. However, there was one special moment, more than 20 years ago, that now comes to my mind: In these times, I was organizing the European Youth Academy, an encounter of young students from Eastern and Western European countries, just after the fall of the iron curtain. One day, a young girl approached us, the staff, and said: “This Youth Academy was the most important experience in my life.”

How and why did you start working in peace education?

In the early 1980s, as a young high school teacher, I was involved in the peace movement. I tried to combine my political vocation with my profession. As there was practically no teaching material, I started to prepare my own material, and I came in touch with other peace educators, and started reading peace education literature. A few years later, I moved from high school to university, and there, I had much better conditions to continue and develop my work, even if I was never appointed for being a peace educator.