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Migration and Home Affairs

Athena-syntax Where Art and Education Meet

Target Audience
key themes association
Alternative and counter narrativesSocial cohesion and polarisation



Athena-syntax is a non-profit organisation founded by, associated with and housed in the GO! Royal Athenaeum of Antwerp.

The project is a policy driver within the school. It is run by a core group of teachers and people from the sociocultural life of the city.

Type of Organisation: Other

Project description

Our school is a multicultural flagship school in the city of Antwerp. Our students represent more than 60 nationalities. Our teaching staff also boasts great diversity.

Among our students, there are many second- and third generation migrant youngsters, as well as refugees. Due to the school’s multicultural population, it is also faced with children being raised in radical environments, some of whom even left for Syria. Between 2011 and 2015, our school addressed an infiltration of Sharia4Belgium.

Our educational project is built upon common values and all interactions in the school presuppose the acknowledgement of universal human rights and dogma-free scientific research.

At our school, we actively translate these values into a cycle of four universal themes (time, choice, space and human being), which are developed throughout the school year and across the different subjects.

These themes are considered from an ever-widening perspectives. Over the years, the approach has been extended. During the first two years of secondary school, it opens with the student's own (religious or other) worldview (DISCOVER). In years 3 and 4, other worldviews are introduced (ENCOUNTER). During the last two years, extensive dialogue is undertaken on societal themes, using the various religions and worldviews in order to offer diverse perspectives on these themes (EVOLVE).

We have placed the interreligious and philosophical dialogues on a learning pathway linked to educational outcomes, social skills and active citizenship. This process is rolled out in various planned steps throughout the school year, and slowly built up in the form of lessons, lectures, workshops and other extracurricular activities.

To tackle the problems caused by proselytism and Sharia4Belgium, teachers decided to involve art in their dialogue platforms.

The Athena-syntax ‘Where Art and Education Meet’ project emerged from a horizontal dialogue between teachers of science and religions and worldviews. It was initiated after teachers observed that students were being groomed and confused by discrepancies between evolution and origin narratives lessons.

The teachers of the various religions, ethics, science and art classes, participated in this dialogue, in which both narratives could co-exist, together in various projects of Athena-syntax. Among other things, we make the link with the projects 'Identity & Communication' and the 'Prevention Pyramid' (RAN Collection).

Considering the positive effects on students, teachers decided to organise a project week focussed on the topic of art and culture. During this week the students explore the perception of art, study and appreciation of art, as well as the creation of art.

The Athena-syntax ‘Where Art and Education Meet’ project offers a structure for involving art.

Why art?

Art offers space and freedom which makes it easier to explore difficult and sensitive topics. Art has a sublimating function. These projects start out similarly and have the ambition of conveying a positive message. This doesn't mean that difficult or painful subjects cannot be broached: confrontations with and the airing of challenging feelings are positive and essential in the process.

Athena-syntax is conceived as an enriching experience for students and teachers alike. The project gives students the space to experience their own and each other’s identities through the medium of art and creativity. Thanks to the creation of an affective bond, we hope to accompany students and colleagues as they shape their own philosophical and/or religious and scientific thinking.

Through positive impulses, drawing on what is shared rather than what is different, students are empowered to be involved in a pluralist society where science and art coexist with religious and philosophical affairs.


Contact details


GO! Koninklijk Atheneum Antwerpen
Franklin Rooseveltplaats 11
2060 Antwerp

School principal – policy coördinator GO! & Ran expertpool

Contact person: Karin Heremans
Telephone: +32 497 44 78 37
Karin [dot] HeremansatAtheneumantwerpen [dot] be (Email) | Website


Contact person: Rudi Audiens
Telephone: +32 476 21 94 53
Rudi [dot] Audiensattelenet [dot] be (Email)

Read the full practice

26. MAJ 2021
Athena-syntax Where Art and Education Meet
(195.68 KB - PDF)