The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research.
Member of the Leibniz Association (GEI)
The Georg Eckert Institute conducts applied and multidisciplinary research into textbooks and educational media related to textbooks, informed primarily by history and cultural studies. It also provides advisory services to national and international education policymakers and practitioners, and acts as a coordinator and mediator in international issues and projects related to textbooks. Research, knowledge transfer and research infrastructure services are all closely interconnected in the work of the GEI. Flourishing in its role as a non-university institution both carrying out and facilitating research into textbooks and educational media the Georg Eckert Institute has grown in recent years to become an internationally recognised reference centre in the field.
One of the Institute’s principal attractions to researchers from around the world is its research library, whose collection of textbooks for history, geography, social and political studies, religious studies and values education is unparalleled worldwide. The GEI’s modular information and communication gateway Edumeres.net provides virtual access to the most up-to-date information, publications and data from the fields of textbook and educational media research. The institute’s extensive programme of fellowships and scholarships is dedicated to raising awareness of textbooks and textbook research. The institute is committed to advancing academic work and facilitating networking in the field, as reflected in its research award for outstanding academic work and its support scheme for visiting academics. Each year since 2012 the Institute has honoured excellence in educational media by awarding the ‘Textbook of the Year’ award at the Leipzig Book Fair.
Textbooks: a hot topic
The condensed and canonical character of the information selected for and presented in textbooks gives them central significance in academic, political and educational respects. Textbooks, as carriers of the knowledge and information that one generation wishes to pass on to the next, frequently find themselves at the centre of political controversy. They may promote prejudice and animosity, yet can also contribute to reconciliation and peace-building.
Textbooks and the digital revolution
The progress of digitisation is causing a fundamental shift in the education sector. Schools are increasingly taking the opportunity to implement interactive and multimedia educational materials in lessons. In response, the GEI has expanded its research activities related to digital media. In addition to launching new studies exploring the availability of knowledge and interpretations, the societal dimension of media transition processes, and practices surrounding use and appropriation, the Institute is also further expanding the library catalogue and continuing to digitise its collection.
Textbook research at the GEI
In comparison with established academic disciplines such as history and sociology, research into textbooks is a relatively new field and is not yet represented as a subject at universities. This situation makes it all the more crucial for those working in the field, and approaching it from a range of academic disciplines and regional contexts, to have recourse to a space for scholarly discussion and mutual support and a resource for the provision of data, sources and information. The GEI is that space; its internationally renowned research library, its publications, its fellowship programme, its wide range of events, and not least the many researchers working there make for a stimulating, inspiring and supportive atmosphere for academics engaged in research into educational media.