Governmental Research Funding promoting “Democracy Education"

Haende bilden einen Kreis

Adobe Stock/Shutter B

Funding-Period: 2019-2024
Field of action: Managing diversity and reinforcing social cohesion, improving educational equity – recognising and developing individual potential

Objectives of the funding measure:
Freedom, equality, justice and solidarity – these are the fundamental values our democracy is built on, but to live in a democratic society is not to be taken for granted. Therefore, it is important to seize the opportunity to actively shape democratic processes. The enormous global challenges of recent years such as climate change, globalization and the Covid-19 pandemic have mobilised people in Germany and other countries. Radical political and social changes have motivated many citizens to commit themselves to a diverse and vibrant democracy.

With respect to the different possibilities of political participation, which range from taking part in manifestations and petitions to contacting politicians or working in associations, parties or citizens’ initiatives, there are still significant social differences to be observed concerning the type and extent of commitment shown by people. This means that political participation is not equally accessible to everyone in Germany. Therefore, we must succeed in fostering political integration for society as a whole.

Democracy needs dialogue and openness, the capacity to cope with conflicts and a balanced give-and-take as well as a common set of core values. These values will have to be learnt, discussed, and lived every day. In so doing, and beyond a purely cognitive and discursive approach, a culture of co-determination will be crucial to reach this goal. Hence, democracy education will have a fundamental role to play as it helps ensure that the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany will be accepted and perpetuated now and in the future of a democratically constituted Europe. Besides, democracy education strengthens the political participation of as many and different citizens as possible, thus promoting social cohesion. Eventually, it gives people the possibility to experience themselves as having an influence on politics and it enables them to take part in politics and democratic processes as competent citizens.

In order to strengthen and further develop the field of democracy education in the context of the present social challenges and as part of the Framework Programme for Empirical Educational Research, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is currently financing the following three research projects based on the Federal Government's Strategy on Preventing Extremism and Promoting Democracy:

The project „Subjects of Democracy. Current Challenges and Opportunities in Democracy Education in Germany („Subjekte der Demokratie. Aktuelle Herausforderungen und Potenziale der Demokratiebildung in Deutschland (DemoS)“), which is carried out at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media | Georg Eckert Institute (GEI, Funding period: 01.09.2019–15.02.2023), aims at elaborating a systematic and complete overview of democracy education in Germany as content, aim, and practice of political education at school.

The project “Education and Democracy for the Youngest. Discourses and practices of Democracy Education in public day care centres” („Bildung und Demokratie mit den Jüngsten. Diskurse und Praktiken der Demokratiebildung in öffentlich verantworteter Kindertagesbetreuung (BilDe2)“ run by the German Youth Institute (Deutsches Jugendinstitut –

DJI) (Funding period: 01.09.2019–15.02.2023) proposes to analyse the practical implementation of educational policies and concepts in early childhood education.

Both projects work in close cooperation and from complementary points of view to, for the first time, study democracy education from early childhood education till lower and upper secondary education in vocational and general schools. Thus, the projects both aim at delivering a sound scientific base for decision-making and hands-on recommendations for action in Germany.

The project Democracy Education Monitor („Monitor Demokratiebildung“) (Funding period: 01.06.2020–31.03.2024) develops a criterion-based overview of democracy education in German practice and research. The respective instrument is designed for the regular monitoring of the state-of-the art in democracy education, for evaluating the success of the governmental strategy and it will help to firmly root this field of action in German research and practice.

Apart from research funding in the field of democracy education, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, (BMBF) fosters the national contest of “Democratically Acting” (Demokratisch Handeln). This contest exists since 1991 and it is meant to strengthen democratic culture and attitude in the everyday-life of children and youths.