Knowledge in Transition

This department researches knowledge presented in textbooks as an indicator and factor of social change. Textbooks and other educational media are a central instrument through which societies attempt to pass what they consider to be relevant knowledge on to future generations.

When examining social change in various regions of the world, what is considered relevant knowledge that should be conveyed by schools? What do textbooks say about social pluralisation, political upheaval, religion or climate change? The department analyses the knowledge depicted in - or omitted from - educational media regarding the constancy or disruption of the social order when viewed in historical and international comparison.

What are the processes of negotiation, agreement and possibly dispute behind this knowledge, and who is involved? The department investigates how the knowledge presented in educational media is produced and appropriated in the context of the economy, the state and education policy. It focusses on the societal negotiation processes behind the production and application of the knowledge that is included in textbooks and the interactions between curriculum designers, publishers, authors, social interest groups and the pupils themselves. The department explores how knowledge systems change and are moulded to meet different requirements and expectations. The researchers draw on academic debates from many disciplines and, in turn, contribute to those discussions.

  • Research

    The Knowledge in Transition department researches the discursive shift in and production and appropriation of the knowledge that is presented in educational media as well as the diverse societal negotiation processes associated with such knowledge. It primarily investigates the transformation of knowledge taught in schools and how it is manifested in educational media in the context of central social and educational challenges and reflects on current (subject-specific) didactic issues in history, politics and religious studies teaching. It combines this with an exploration of the shifts in institutional and discursive frameworks that shape societal negotiation processes related to educational media and the knowledge it contains, from a historical and transnational perspective.

  • Research Infrastructure / Transfer

    The department provides a wide range of transfer services for national and international education policy-makers, educational media production and education practice, and coordinates the work of the bilateral Textbook Commissions based at the Institute. It develops multimedia teaching materials that are research-based, reflect multiple perspectives and follow didactic methodologies, and makes these available online through the Zwischentöne(nuances) platform. The Hi-Story website, developed together with the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity from 2015 to 2020, publishes animated teaching materials in nine languages with interactive timelines and infographics on the history and culture of the twentieth century. Through its systematic inclusion, conception and application of digital methods, the department contributes to the methodological expansion of the fundamentals of textbook and educational media research, in particular encompassing approaches from the digital humanities.

Completed Projects