The European Union in German textbooks.
A study on civic education.

The European Union (EU) and the politics and policies surrounding it continue to be viewed as complex, highly dynamic and out of touch with ordinary European citizens. The challenge European integration thus poses to political studies teaching in schools means that teachers and learners need educational media which help students understand this sometimes difficult topic and enable teachers to communicate the issues well in class.

But how do textbooks in Germany depict the topic of European integration? And how are these textbooks used in political studies lessons? These questions are at the core of a research project being conducted by the Georg Eckert Institute and Göttingen University, entitled "Textbooks as Mediators of European Integration? A study on political science teaching in schools" and headed by Monika Oberle of Göttingen University and Eckhardt Fuchs of the GEI.

The project is a link-up between two forms of empirical research into textbooks: In Braunschweig, doctoral student Marret Bischewski is analysing 87 German secondary-school textbooks published between 2003 and 2013 (focussing on books for the German state of Lower Saxony). The books are being researched according to category and by applying qualitative and quantitative content analysis; the aim being to investigate the content and presentation of topics in chapters addressing the EU and their didactic design. The presentation of democracy, participation and legitimacy as they relate to the EU are of particular interest. In Göttingen another doctoral student, Christian Tatje, is exploring the use and impact of these textbooks through interviews with students and teachers at schools in Lower Saxony. The project’s ultimate aim is to draw up recommendations for improving the quality of education on the EU in German schools and for maximising the benefits of textbook use for teachers and pupils.

On 9 September 2016 the study’s central findings were presented to the public at a closing conference in Göttingen. The speeches took a critical look at how the EU is presented exclusively as a political system and how opportunities to participate (such as European elections) were presented in textbooks. The speakers also discussed the various ways in which textbooks are used and how this places differing demands on the EU content (such as by young people with an immigrant background).

Project leads

Eckhardt Fuchs, Monika Oberle

Project contributors

Marret Bischewski, Kathrin Henne, Kim Katinka Nickel, Christian Tatje


  • PRO*Niedersachsen

Project duration

  • 2013 - 2016


Eckhardt Fuchs

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