First-class educational media research

The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research announced the recipients of its Research Award and Award for Young Academics in a ceremony in the Old Town Hall in Braunschweig on 30 November 2018. Dr Sabine Johannsen, the parliamentary state secretary for the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture presented the awards honouring research into international educational media to Dr Christine Ott and Lindsay Wills. The prize, which is sponsored by the Braunschweig-based Westermann Gruppe, is endowed with 5,000 euros. The Award for Young Academics is funded by the GEI and is worth 500 euros.

Andrea Watermeyer, publishing manager in the Westermann Gruppe, emphasised the importance of quality assurance processes for educational media. These are safeguarded by the expertise of educational publishers on one hand, and by findings from textbook research on the other, ‘which is why we are delighted to sponsor the Georg Eckert Research Award’ she added.

Dr Christine Ott was honoured for her doctoral thesis: Sprachlich vermittelte Geschlechterkonzepte. Eine diskurslinguistische Untersuchung von Schulbüchern der Wilhelminischen Kaiserzeit bis zur Gegenwart [The linguistic conveyance of gender concepts: Applying discourse linguistics to a study of textbooks from the Wilhelmine period until the present day.]. In this work she explored how gender concepts are linguistically conveyed and how they reach textbooks. Dr Ott researched textbooks for Mathematics and German published between the 1890s and the 2010s. The award recipient was awarded a grant to research at the GEI in 2013, where she had access to the world’s largest textbook collection, held by the Institute.

The Award for Young Academics, which honours an outstanding final thesis, was presented to Lindsay Wills for her master’s thesis ‘History on whose terms? Reading about women and gender in two South African history textbook series’. She examined the quality of the portrayal of women, ‘women’s topics’ and gender in the texts and images used in two of the most widely used history textbooks in South Africa. The author concluded that the references to women in the textbooks essentially provide an alibi for the masculine hegemony that is carried forward and consolidated.

Parliamentary state secretary Dr Sabine Johannsen said in her welcoming speech ‘By bestowing the awards for research and for young academics, the GEI provides an important stimulus for educational media research. It is particularly pleasing that in addition to the exceptional quality of the work honoured, both recipients are women, as were all recipients of this year’s Lower Saxony Science Awards’.

The GEI’s position as an outstanding academic ‘hotspot’ within Braunschweig was emphasised during a discussion between GEI Director Prof. Eckhardt Fuchs, Chair of the ForschungRegion Braunschweig e.V., Prof. Joachim Block and Mayoress of Braunschweig Annegret Ihbe. Eckhardt Fuchs highlighted that this award clearly demonstrates that the region is not only influential in the fields of ‘hard’ science and technology but also can also stimulate exceptional cultural and humanities research.

The winners

Dr Christine Ott, who was born in 1986, studied German and history to teach at grammar school and at the same time completed a master’s degree in modern German literary history, German linguistics, and evangelical theology and religious education. In 2017 she was appointed temporary academic advisor at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg and is also a lecturer in the faculty for German teaching/German as a second language at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. She works part-time as the director of the Stellwerck Verlag, organises poetry slams, sits on the panels of literary competitions and initiates and directs numerous cultural projects aimed at introducing literature to a wider audience as well as conceiving a series of events titled ‘Frauen in der Wissenschaft’ (Women in academia) for the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. In 2015 she was awarded the city of Würzburg’s Young Culture Prize and in 2017 her dissertation was awarded the Bavarian Culture Prize.

Lindsay Wills was born in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in 1988. She teaches history and English and, as an author of textbooks, has produced teaching materials for use in history lessons. She qualified as a teacher in 2011 at the University of Cape Town and in 2016 she was awarded her master’s degree with distinction by the Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of York in Great Britain. Her master’s thesis was awarded the 2016 Susan Anderson Memorial Prize by Palgrave/MacMillan, which honours exceptional work in the area of women’s history.

The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook research.

The Georg Eckert Institute conducts applied and multidisciplinary research into textbooks and educational media informed primarily by history and cultural studies. It explores the production, content and use of educational media in its socio-cultural, political, economic and historical contexts. It also provides unique digital and on-site research-based infrastructure services. At the centre of the Institute is its research library containing the world’s most comprehensive collection of international textbooks covering the subjects of history, geography, politics/social studies and ethics/religion. The Institute also develops digital and freely accessible infrastructure tools for cultural and humanities research related to educational media for use in schools. It provides transfer services for critical research in the fields of national and international education practice, educational media production and education policy.

Photos of the ceremony (©GEI/A. L. Fuchs):

Picture 1: Research Award (Photo of certificate being presented to Dr Christine Ott; left to right: Andrea Watermeyer, Annegret Ihbe, Prof. Eckhardt Fuchs, Dr Sabine Johannsen, Prof. Eva Matthes, recipient Dr Christine Ott) 

Picture 2: Award for Young Academics (Photo of certificate being presented to Lindsay Wills; left to right: Andrea Watermeyer, Annegret Ihbe, Prof. Eckhardt Fuchs, recipient Lindsay Wills, Prof. Béatrice Ziegler, Dr Sabine Johannsen)

For more information on the Georg Eckert Research Prize see: http://www.gei.de/en/fellowships-awards/georg-eckert-research-award/award-winners/2018.html