Subjects for Democracy. Current Challenges and Opportunities in Democracy Education (DemoS)

The DemoS research project, which is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aims to produce a comprehensive review of democracy education in Germany, both in practice and as a subject and objective of political education at secondary level general education and vocational schools as well as in examples of specialist teacher training. DemoS is part of the collaborative project Demokratiebildung in Deutschland (democracy education in Germany) being conducted with the German Youth Institute (DJI) which explores early childhood education in a complementary sub-project called Bildung und Demokratie mit den Jüngsten – BilDe (Education and democracy with very young children). This project enables the GEI and the DJI to jointly contribute their research to debates on a highly relevant social topic: political decision-makers and educationalists emphatically formulate the goal of a fundamental education in democracy as a requirement for the inclusive education of children and young people in general and for school education in particular.

  • Goals

    The focus is on the contribution democracy education can make to developing a sense of democracy and inclusion in pupils and to encouraging their participation in society. Its objective is the systematic and focussed development of this complex subject field. The central questions are: (i) How is democracy education conceived, designed and implemented across the entire curricular process, from education policy parameters (policy curriculum), to programme design in terms of curricula and textbooks (programmatic curriculum) and including pedagogic and scholastic practice (enacted curriculum) (ii) What potential for democracy education is subsequently unlocked and under what conditions can that potential be exploited?

  • Procedure

    In order to answer these questions the DemoS project team will undertake four interconnected sub-projects that will examine the issues in more detail: (i) An analysis of curricula, focussing on the reciprocative relationship between specialised, didactic and education policy debates and the resulting curricula. (ii) A textbook analysis that will utilise quantitative and qualitative content analysis of selected political studies textbooks to investigate the importance afforded democracy education as a topic and an objective and its significance in teaching practice. (iii) A qualitative interview study which focuses on the role of democracy education in political studies and the specific school culture. (iv) An analysis of scholastic and teaching practice that will use ethnographic methods to examine the implementation, appropriation and negotiation processes of political and programmatic processes in relation to democracy education.

    In addition to these four sub-projects the project will expand the methodological repertoire of humanities and cultural studies in the context of the digital shift in academic working practices. The project team will digitise the curricula and textbooks under study and develop a digital search and analysis tool. The aim is to conduct an informed quantitative and qualitative content-analysis of curricula and political studies textbooks. For this purpose, the project staff are intensively involved in the development of the Research Toolbox.

  • Results

    Conference Papers


    • Summer School "Decolonize Teacher Education?!" at Philipps-Universität Marburg (14.–15.07.2022),
      Patrick Mielke: Lecture "Wahrnehmungen von Imperialismus und Kolonialismus durch Schüler:innen. Ethnologische Beobachtungen im Geschichtsunterricht".
    • DGfE congress 2022 ENT | GRENZ | UNGEN, (13–16 March 2022, University of Bremen)
      Project Subjects for Democracy. Current Challenges and Opportunities in Democracy Education (DemoS) together with the project Bildung und Demokratie mit den Jüngsten (BilDe) conducted by the German Youth Institute and Prof. Dr Alexander Wohnig: Shaping of the working group "Demokratiebildung in Kita und Schule: Herausforderungen, Potentiale und Grenzen".
    • Seminar leader training run by the Landesinstituts für Schulqualität und Lehrerbildung Sachsen-Anhalt (LISA) on 8 October 2021: DemoS-presentation and interactive workshop ‘Verschiedene Diskriminierungsformen in Politikschulbüchern und Curricula’ (Different forms of discrimination in politics textbooks and curricula).
    • Online conference 'Politische Bildung in der superdiversen Gesellschaft' , 21st annual conference of the Society for Civic Education Didactics and Civic Youth and Adult Education (GPJE), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Chair of Political Science / Civic Education (10–12 June 2021),
      Riem Spielhaus: participation in panel discussion: 'Diversitätsorientierte politische Bildung' (Diversity-oriented political education).
    • 'Bildungswelten der Zukunft' (Education of the future), Bildungsforschungstagung des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung (9–10 March 2021),
      Project Subjects for Democracy. Current Challenges and Opportunities in Democracy Education (DemoS) together with the project Bildung und Demokratie mit den Jüngsten (BilDe) conducted by the German Youth Institute: Shaping of the forum 'Demokratiebildung in Kindertagesstätten und Schulen– Herausforderungen, Potenziale, Zukunftsvisionen' (Democracy education in kindergartens and school - challenges, potential and a vision of the future).
    • 'Demokratisch gestalten: Schule – Bildung – Teilhabe' (Democratic design: schools, educaiton participation), Ev. Akademie Loccum (17–19 February 2020),
      Riem Spielhaus: Co-design of the workshop 'Welche curricularen Innovationen können den Politikunterricht Sek I/Sek II stärken?' (Which curricular innovations could improve political education in secondary education?).


    • At the digital final conference of the BMBF joint project Demokratiebildung in Deutschland (democracy education in Germany) on 17.01.2023, the researchers of the GEI and the DJI presented the results of the joint project and discussed them with representatives from science, practice and educational policy. Please find the conference program here (in German).
    • Several team members from the DemoS project went to Berlin on 31 May 2022 as part of the ‘Leibniz im Bundestag’ (Leibniz at the Federal Government) event. They had in-person meetings with three members of parliament, from different parties, who were members of the Committee for Education, Research and Technological Impact Assessment, and the Family Affairs Committee. The project staff discussed the limitations of democracy education in schools, based on findings from initial research, with members of the Bundestag
    • On 17 and 18 November 2021 the teams from the DemoS (subjects for democracy) project run by the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media | Georg Eckert Institute and the BilDe (Education and democracy with very young children) project run by the German Youth Institute (DJI) held an online expert workshop. The teams invited Prof. Sabine Achour, professor for political education and political didactics (FU Berlin), Prof. Tanja Betz, professor for general education focussing on childhood research (JGU Mainz) and Prof. Elisabeth Richter, professor for intercultural social work (MS Hamburg). After listening to the opening presentations from the three experts, the participants discussed the preliminary project results as well as questions on the subject of democracy education in schools and day-care facilities, both directly related to the project and more broadly.
    • As part of the ‘Leibniz im Landtag’ (Leibniz in state parliament) event, members of the DemoS project met online with a member of the Lower Saxony parliament. The meeting, on 11 November 2021, offered the team the opportunity to introduce and discuss the project.

Project Team

Projekt Contact: demos(at)