Berlin - as a focal point for the political unification of east and west Europe, with its historical contributions to the modernization of central Europe, as a multicultural capital, and as one of the largest cities in Europe - provides an ideal location for discussions about Urban Education.
Cities are greenhouses for educational change and educational reform all over the world and also in Europe. Cities have always been regarded as leading elements in Europe; they are modern, progressive and networked. They are producers and traders; they are a medium for political and cultural development.
Historically, cities have encouraged hopes as well as doubts concerning educational matters. On the one hand cities have been celebrated as places of modern and urban lifestyles. On the other hand, they have been suspected of bringing forward uniform ways of living.
In recent times social changes triggering educational reactions have been concentrated in city regions. National and international migration movement targets cities. Demographic changes lead to aggregation as well as disaggregation in the population's structure. In cities, social, economic, and cultural diversity are challenges for politicians, civil society, and everyday life.
Not only are cities burning glasses of societal change and its educational consequences; they also provide remarkable resources to put societal and educational change on the political agenda in order to shape them proactively.
The possibilities to mobilise public interest, the density of institutional structures and the presence of representatives from different societal interest groups make cities a most lively political arena - the same goes for education.
Cities’ educational systems comprise institutions and organisations on all levels of formalised education from early childhood care to university. They also contain variations of educational organisations which emerge under the conditions of cooperation, competition, and innovative dynamics. What is more, cities help bring forward and develop new initiatives of informal education. Perhaps most importantly, cities draw attention away from the formalized political agenda and bring civil society in the foreground.