Project Description: Background, Development and Objectives
City fates open up – through their diversity and complexity and through their integration and common ground with European culture and history – a particularly interesting form of approaching European history. Through them historical developments and events can be captured prismatically. A city kaleidoscope of selected European cultural capitals, which appeared particularly significant in prominent historical phases – in their most difficult situations, the “dark hours,” and in “high bloom,” the “golden times” – emerged from this idea
In order to allow for a content-related connection of the city histories, three workshops took place in 2008 for the pilot project team, which consisted of college students and young teachers and their coordinators from Poland, Lithuania and Germany.
The most important goal of the first meeting in Krakow in January 2008 was an agreement regarding the content concentrations. The project group selected ten topics, of which five would be covered by each of the three city histories. The remaining five were optional. Agreements on the selection of materials and the manner of desired presentation and development were likewise carried out. Additionally, the Polish teachers gave insight into their everyday teaching.
The research phase began after the workshop, during which the source material was compiled from, among other places, the archives, museums and libraries of the various cities. The German project group traveled to Essen for its research.
The second meeting took place in July 2008 in Vilnius. The project members presented their findings in this workshop in order to align their connection points, to pursue didactic goals together and to continue working on the website’s format. A textbook publisher and author, from the “Briedis” publishing house supported the project. He informed the group about the processes within the Lithuanian textbook publishing industry and the didactic implementation of historical topics.
During the autumn months the teaching materials in the individual project groups were analyzed didactically. At the end of the project in November 2008, all of the project contributors met at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig. The goals were to make final adjustments to the presentation system and the website layout, as well as to the presentation and to discuss findings and the didactic implementation of the project groups. A discussion about a uniform concept of methods led to the additional service of explanatory methods pages. Experts and didacts from the Georg Eckert Institute were available at this workshop.
Shortly before the publication of the website, information sessions took place at the Georg Eckert Institute for scholars, college students, teachers and teacher trainees.
The main objective of the city project is the presentation of the cultural capitals Krakow, Vilnius and Essen/Ruhr region in the form of teaching units, which in total cover six epochs within European history. An approach to the diversity of European history as well as insight into the conflict potential with multi-perspectival presentations should be made possible with this. Each city is presented through ten different topics, which can be integrated into history, geography, politics and/or interdisciplinary teaching. In doing so, topics such as “education,” “population and social structures,” or the “history of everyday life” are taken on. The topics are presented through informative texts and authentic source material using visual aids, images, text sources, etc. and are combined with corresponding assignments.
The city kaleidoscope is accessible to the public through this Georg Eckert Institute website in the respective national languages and in English.
The pilot project is tied to a transfer and research project under the guidance of the Eastern Europe Historian Dr. Robert Maier at the Georg Eckert Institute. The transfer and research project searches for ways to write European history openly and pluralistically without placing the current national borders at the center of observation. The long-term project goal is to present 25 cities and to connect these presentations thematically in such a way that the diversity within “European unity” becomes clear.