Research projects

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consists of official documents from different political levels, as well as grey literature, memos, correspondence and unpublished manuscripts.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.

Project duration: April 2019 - March 2023
Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation
For more information, see

In-service training for early childhood professionals in Switzerland

The professional education and care of young children is a demanding task. In recent years, the demands placed on those in Switzerland, who have completed their basic vocational training with a federal certificate, have steadily increased. In addition to the traditional tasks, special emphasis has been placed on learning and early support. The institutions have not only an educational mission. They are also ascribed economic, labour market and gender equality policy functions.
Against the backdrop of the increased expectations, early childhood education professionals are increasingly expected to undergo continuous in-service training. Associations, vocational schools, colleges and private institutions offer a whole range of courses and structured programmes. These vary greatly in terms of costs, time, subject matter and form of teaching. So far, there is no overview of the complete range of the courses offered.
The pilot study is therefore dedicated to in-service training programmes for the field of early childhood education and care. On the one hand, it serves to gain an overview of providers, data and sources and on the other hand to develop a methodological toolkit that can be used for further empirical analyses of course programmes. Initial case studies will be carried out in the pilot study and the results will be published.

Project duration: 2018-2019
Funded by the Jacobs Foundation

Educating Capital in the 20th Century

Most companies are not primarily providers and recipients of education; rather, they produce and distribute goods, offer loans, or provide services. Nonetheless, today’s business world often deals with expectations of further socialisation and qualification. The habilitation project explores the legitimisation of an ever stronger commitment to education within the Swiss private sector during the 20th century. It focuses on the justifications for investments into apprenticeships, further education opportunities and executive training.