Education and the European Digital Agenda: Switzerland, Germany and Sweden after 1970

This project reconstructs how the educational implications of technological change have been faced politically between 1970 and the end of the dotcom boom around 2000. It is concerned with how the challenge of the new information and communications technologies has been met in Europe during the first decades after the microchip started restructuring businesses, administration and daily life. The project focuses especially on the political initiatives regarding secondary schooling, vocational education and training, adult and higher education.
The project is based on a comparative approach. It examines political initiatives in Europe and puts special focus on the developments in Switzerland, in Germany (East and West) and Sweden. Starting from existing research on single developments, the project examines systematically the roles of national, supranational and transnational actors in politics and science as well as those of companies and private business associations in pushing forward the digital agenda in education. Thus, the project aims at a precise reconstruction of different national paths and transnational entanglements.
In the field of semiconductor technology, European states and the European Commission after the boom decades were worried about losing out to Japan and the USA. Based on the existing research, the outlined project assumes that, since the mid-1970s, European states have pushed a technological agenda that has also influenced education policies. Although this fact has attracted attention already especially in sociology, the educational implications of technological change after 1970 have not yet been the subject of comparative historical research.
Methodologically, the project follows an approach that reconstructs political responses to technological challenges since the 1970s in a European multi-level governance. It includes the supranational and the transnational level as well as national developments. The corpus of sources for this project consists of official documents from different political levels, as well as grey literature, memos, correspondence and unpublished manuscripts. It assumes neither a top-down nor a bottom-up, but rather aims to study the complex modes of action on different levels. The sample consists of countries that have distinctive educational traditions and that showed a different level of European integration during the assessment period. This offers a possibility to compare different forms of co-operation as well as national solo efforts.

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Project duration: April 2019 - March 2023
Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation