The Institute for Participation and Education carries out research in the field of democratic education (Demokratiebildung). It examines the prerequisites, methods of implementation and the effects of democratic education within child and youth welfare organizations as well as at a local level. Our research includes not only our own model projects such as “Die Kinderstube der Demokratie” (“the nursery of democracy”), during which we do openly engage in in-depth scrutiny as well as sufficient (self)-criticism, but also other external concepts concerning participation and political education among children and young people. Whereas in the beginning the emphasis of our research activities lie predominantly in the development and expansion of participatory practice concepts, in recent years our institute has also started a process of reflection on such practice concepts under and following implementation. Research activities are conducted through relevant projects but also as an integral part of final theses at university level.
Further topics central to our research activities are:
- What competences are needed by child care professionals in early childhood education and daycare centers in order to provide a setting conducive to democratic education?
- How do child care professionals, children, parents, and others jointly go about establishing participatory democratic practice during everyday activities? This also means examining how certain conceptual requirements are then applied in practice.
- How can principles surrounding child participation in democratic decision-making that have proven successful in early childhood education and daycare centers be applied to schools (primary and secondary), socio-educational support services, child and youth work, and decision-making processes at a local level?
When formulating and designing our projects we tend to follow the principle that research on issues concerning democratic education should in itself take democratic principles into account. We therefore consider those involved to be active agents engaged in co-productive research with our institute, and cooperatively generating research results comprehensible to all parties involved. A co-productive research process should provide a platform for mutual clarification as well as strengthen and improve democratic education efforts in practice. Transparency surrounding research goals and methods is therefore important here, along with mutually agreeable conclusions to negotiations over research findings.
In addition to our own research projects, the Institute for Participation and Education can provide support in the following areas:
- Development and implementation of research and evaluation projects concerning participation and democratic education within child and youth welfare organizations and at a local level
- Clarification of issues and methodical approaches concerning participation and democratic education
- Generation and interpretation of research results involving all parties concerned
- Participatory conclusion process concerning consequences for future improvements in democratic education