Textbooks and Society

This research area is committed to investigating the diverse range of interactions that take place between educational media and social change. It explores crises and conflict that emerge within and between societies around values and social norms, as well as looking into issues relating to diversity in societies. A further core field of the research conducted in this area revolves around changes in textbook production in the context of societal, technological and economic transformations. Textbooks and Society also traces the impact of educational interventions and provides advisory and knowledge transfer services which generate ideas and momentum for educational initiatives.

The researchers working in this area employ a wide repertoire of methodologies, including text and discourse analysis, ethnographic studies and stakeholder and network analysis. Our research relates primarily to the disciplines and school subjects of history, geography, social studies, ethics and religious studies.

Peace and Conflict

School textbooks reflect conflicts between societies and within them and can themselves be the objects of such disputes. They are instrumental in the social construction of conflict realities and of threats to peace and security. How are societal conflicts depicted in school textbooks? What role can educational media play in the prevention of violent conflict and how can it facilitate the constructive treatment of the topic within society? These are the core questions of the research field Peace and Conflict.

Religious Change and Societal Diversity

How are shifts in cultural and religious diversity portrayed in current and historic educational media and how are these changes reflected in textbooks? In the light of the de/secularisation, pluralisation and individualisation of faith and religion in today’s world, and the advancing socio-cultural heterogeneity of present-day societies, Religious Change and Societal Diversity explores the configurations, representation and reception of difference in its various facets and seeks to understand how teaching and learning practices might reflect, acknowledge and do justice to diversity. How can diversity be recognised in educational media and how can this be appropriately represented and acknowledged?

Textbook Production: Frameworks and Practitioners

Always bearing in mind the advance of technology in the societal sphere and the increasing dominance of economically-based practices and models, this sub-area explores the past and present-day production of textbooks, other educational media, and the knowledge that is included in them. One of the team’s foci is on the connection between societies’ notions of an ideal social order and the ways in which knowledge is communicated and disseminated. The researchers in this sub-area are also interested in those involved in textbook production, the various interests they pursue, the educational policy frameworks in which they are situated, and the processes of negotiation by which the content of textbooks is arrived at.