Citizenship education plays a key role in fostering democracy, human rights and the rule of law (Council of Europe, 2010). It is strongly intertwined with lifelong learning and with the development of the ability to act responsibly in societies, while fully participating in civic and social life (UNESCO, 2022; Council of the European Union, 2018).
In formal education, citizenship education aims to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to participate effectively and to live together peacefully in culturally diverse societies. It is an educational area, characterised by a wide variety of names and of formal curriculum provisions across Europe, often as a consequence of socio-historical and political developments. Within the curriculum, it can be delivered as a separated subject, as an integrated subject, as a cross-curricular area, or even as a mix of these (Eurydice, 2017).
The network aims to pool and bring into focus the research work in this field. The convenors and additional experts planned initial communication and awareness activities for the ECER 2023 annual conference in Glasgow, namely a panel on the role of research in citizenship education in Europe and beyond. Upon formal acceptance, we propose to include the new network in the Call for Proposals for the 2024 conference.
The Network is envisaged as a platform within EERA for comparative exchange and debate in the field of research on citizenship education. The topic exists as a distinct and relevant thematic field in educational research and it touches upon several dimensions. These include the socio-historical contexts of countries and jurisdictions, the educational policies and curricular framing of the area (typically in lower and higher secondary schools, but also in primary and tertiary education), initial teacher training and continuous professional development, the organisation and contexts of schools and classrooms, the support from school leaders for this learning area, teaching and assessment practices, opportunities for learning, as well as learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, attitudes and societal civic engagement. The aim of the network is hence to convene researchers in the field, facilitate discussion on these topics and others related to educating young people as citizens, thereby enhancing capacity and enabling research-informed policy making in the area of citizenship education.
The network does not intend to limit itself to specific dimensions or subfields of citizenship research (e.g., democratic, digital or global citizenship education). It is open to theories, research methodologies and school practices from various countries in Europe and beyond as well as disciplines such as the educational sciences, developmental psychology, sociology, political science, and related fields. The network aims to include research using both qualitative as well as quantitative methods, ranging from (but not limited to) policy and case studies, to surveys, secondary analyses, action research, narrative research, randomised control trials, along with their respective critiques and contestations. The network seeks to foster dialogue among different viewpoints, research methodologies, and educational systems, bringing new perspectives into the academic discourse and broadening the scope of the research field in citizenship education.
Global, national and societal dynamics shaping citizenship education become ever more apparent and provide the incentive for renewed attention for research in this area. Certain aspects, such as threats to democracy and shifts in public opinion formation and communication, are becoming increasingly clear. However, research into citizenship educational programmes and practices do not currently have a dedicated/organic platform for the field in EERA. A new network would therefore be a significant and highly relevant contribution to EERA's mission and allow the expansion of its established actions. The current EERA network structure does not include a dedicated group capable of addressing and providing a platform for discussion on the diverse issues characterising citizenship education research and related fields. The proposed network will gather a variety of research topics that have been scattered among existing networks or that were not previously represented at EERA. It will offer a specific research space for these topics to be analysed and expanded systematically, with the aim of tackling the challenges posed by citizenship education.
Nevertheless, the network will maintain connection with several existing EERA networks, particularly:
- Network 9 (Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement), in relation to secondary analyses of large-scale assessment studies such as ICCS, TIMSS, PIRLS, PISA.
- Network 23 (Policy Studies and Politics of Education), in terms of studies on education policy, including recommendations on citizenship education at the national level and/or in different educational systems.
- Network 30 (Environmental and Sustainability Education Research, ESER), with regard to research on education for sustainable development and global education.
The new Network, while establishing complementary relationships with the existing ones, will deepen the approach to this field by providing a single platform where the multifaceted dimensions of citizenship education research can be presented and discussed. This will allow researchers to have a comprehensive perspective on this research field, regarding education policies, secondary analyses, school and classroom practices, and various research strands (from digital citizenship to global citizenship education, from human rights education to education for sustainable development, to name a few).