‘Politics of the Future’ through Education?
The genealogy of technical and scientific textbook knowledge in Germany (1870-1980)

This project will analyse the origins and transformation of scientific and technical knowledge in German textbooks published between 1870 and 1980. It will investigate the ways in which education in technical subjects and the sciences, and the knowledge it provided to students, came to play as significant a role as the humanities and social sciences in the development of ideas surrounding society’s identity and purpose. In exploring these issues, the project team will analyse societal debates on technical and scientific education and on the content of textbooks used in these fields, as well as the social conditions in which this information was produced, passed on to students, subjected to critical review and circulated in social discourses during the period of study. We will ask to what extent this area of education was contentious within German society and constituted a historical form of ‘politics of the future’. The project will focus on the period around the turn of the twentieth century, as well as the 1920s and 30s and the 1960s and 70s. These periods saw particularly intense political and societal debates on education in scientific and technical subjects – debates that grew virulent regarding questions of what knowledge would be important for the future and which policy approaches should be adopted in order to face the challenges of the era to come. Concentrating on these three periods will allow the project to analyse formative phases of a ‘politics for the future’ in relation not only to change, reform and reorientation of scientific and technical education in schools but more specifically to the societal, political and even ideological relevance and resonance of these matters.

Contact

Marcus Otto

Deputy Head / Department Europe / Research Coordination

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