Textbook activities with East Asia

The Georg Eckert Institute has been in contact with textbook authors, textbook and curriculum researchers and public education institutions in the Far East for many years. The Institute’s research is often considered exemplary here for the overcoming of perception-oriented conflicts in educational media; our partners in the Far East critically ask to what extent internationally comparative textbook research and revision processes and findings, such as those which have been developed through German-French or German-Polish textbook consultations, could help transcend the existing differences in the depiction of recent history, particularly that of the World War II, in Far Eastern textbooks. Institute fellows frequently give lectures and national and international conferences within this context in the region. A continuous co-operation with a number of educational institutions has developed out of these contacts, above all in China, Korea and Japan, which in part goes beyond guidance on conflict depiction and includes questions about the content and methodology reform of instructional media in the subjects of history and geography. As the predominance of national history and geography is being challenged, international coherences should be more strongly factored in.

From November 2003 through September 2006 the Georg Eckert Institute carried out a Volkswagon Foundation sponsored project “Self-Determination, Self-Assertion, The Perception of Others: New Identity Foundations and Historical Revision in the Far East Since the 1980s” together with the East Asian Institute of the University of Leipzig and the Institute for Non-European Languages and Cultures at the University of Erlangen; based on the findings from this project an international conference on the central point of the Institute’s work with East Asian countries will take place in 2008 on the theme “History Education and Reconciliation – Comparative Perspectives on East Asia.”


Over the last ten years, the Georg Eckert Institute hosted a series of bilateral conferences regarding the disciplines of geography and history in collaboration with Chinese partners. These conferences have promoted discussion about the fundamental content and didactic principles underpinning teaching, textbook representations and curricula. The Georg Eckert Institute is in particularly close contact with the Beijing Normal University, the East China Normal University, and with the Shanghai International Studies University.

Topics from seminars, expert lectures, scholarships and short-term teaching residencies in the subject areas of history and geography, as well as in German cultural studies (for students of German as a Foreign Language in Shanghai), primarily include

  • curriculum development on the basis of modern didactic concepts (source usage, controversy, multiperspectival interpretations),
  • the use of new media in geography instruction,
  • issues concerning environmental warming (sustainability and Agenda 21)
  • the relationship between national and international issues contained in geography and history textbooks
  • the importance and depiction of supra-national concepts (“Europe”/”EU”, “Asia”).


In June of 2007 the Georg Eckert Institute agreed to a cooperative agreement with the Northeast Asian History Foundation. As part of a government mandate, the newly established foundation is dedicated to the depiction of Korean history and society with regards to their relationship with neighboring countries, in particular their relationships to China and Japan. The cooperative work with the Georg Eckert Institute includes the mutual exchange of information on instructional media, the presentation of joint seminars and conferences and the offering of research scholarships. The foundation is partnering with the Georg Eckert Institute on the implementation of an international conference on “History Education and Reconciliation in East Asia.”


Motivated by common interests during the Cold War, German and Japanese historians and history teachers already started to co-operate in the 1950s.

The International Society of Educational Information (ISEI), an institution closely linked to Japan's Foreign Ministry, approached the Georg Eckert Institute in the mid-1990s. In the course of two conferences, historians explored issues of modernization in textbooks. Geographers explored consequences of the industrialization process on the environment. 

The Georg Eckert Institute’s research continues to receive media attention in Japan. A contested past and coming to terms with this past is a highly debated topic in Japan itself as in the context of the relations to its neighbours.  Thus, on December 16, 2007 the state-run Japanese television station, NHK-Japan, reported at length on GEI projects in a program about innovative concepts for the future. The possible portability or adaptation of international comparative textbook research models developed in Europe and America, and their successes and setbacks, are a topic of interest for Japanese textbook researchers and facilitators of cultural research; particular mention should be made here to the Georg Eckert Institute’s contacts at the Goethe Institutes in Japan, to the Center for German Studies at the University of Tokyo and to the Departments of History and German Language at Kansai University in Osaka.In addition to its relationships with China, Korea and Japan, the Georg Eckert Institute is in close contact with the AsiaEurope Foundation, whose seminars (“Talks on the Hill”) the GEI has been a part of on various occasions.

Further Activities

  • German-Chinese workshops about sustainability and Agenda 21
  • Conference on the conceptual development of geography curricula in China, Japan and Korea


  • Wang Min and Wei Dongying, "Education for Sustainable Development in China: A Perspective on Curricula Standards and Geography Textbooks," in: Internationale Schulbuchforschung 29 (2007), 185-1997
  • Steffi Richter, “Nicht nur ein Sturm im Wasserglas: Japans jüngster Schulbuchstreit,” in: Internationale Schulbuchforschung 23 (2001), 277-300
  • Tae-Young LEE (ed.), Probleme der Vergangenheitsbewältigung in Schulbüchern Asiens und Europas, The 9th International Conference of History Textbooks, Seoul May 2000
  • Proceedings of the International Conference on Methodologies: Historical Consciousness and History-Textbook Research, Chang Yuan and Liang-Kai Chou (ed.) , Hsin-chu 1998
  • Roderich Henrÿ and Rainer Riemenschneider, Deutsch-japanische Schulbuchkonferenz der Geographen und Historiker “Modernisierung in Deutschland und Japan im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert,” in: Internationale Schulbuchforschung 20 (1998), 336-341
  • Rainer Riemenschneider, “Schulbucharbeit mit Vietnam - Coopération sur les manuels scolaires avec le Vietnam,” in: Internationale Schulbuchforschung 16 (1994), 209-215 (in German and French)
  • Dieter Böhn and Wang Min (ed.), Die Volksrepublik China und die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Erweiterungen schulbuchbezogener Wahrnehmungshorizonte, Hannover: Hahn, 1997
  • Wang Min, “Environmental Awareness in Primary and Middle Schools in China - A Research Report,” in: Internationale Schulbuchforschung 18 (1996), 135-162
  • Roderich Henrÿ, “Von der Volkskomune zum Joint Venture. China in Geographielehrbüchern der Bundesrepublik Deutschland,” in: Internationale Schulbuchforschung 14 (1992), 191-222