Claire Legras, Cyrille Michon, John Marenbon, Robert Gildea, Robert Tombs, Paola Mattei, Sheila Lawlor

The State, National Identity and Schools


Across Western Europe, many countries are facing unprecedented pressures on their education systems as schools aspire to educate children to the highest levels, academically and vocationally, including children from a range of different backgrounds, social, linguistic, ethnic and religious, from across the world. Some countries have aimed to do this through policies of pluralism and multiculturalism while others rely on traditional school systems in terms of content and organisation. To this more general task has been added another dimension with the growth of Muslim extremism in western countries in the last decade or so and the terrorist attacks in 2015-16 in European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Nice and Berlin linked to Islamic extremist movements. These have seemed all the more shocking, when perpetrators are ‘home grown’ - raised and educated in the country and society which they have sought to attack.

Countries are now reviewing security arrangements and justice systems in the face of such attacks, with the more general question posed about how western liberal democracies, and their systems of law and justice as well as security can preserve the principles on which such systems rest, while being equipped also to meet these new dangers.