Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI)
The Georg Eckert Institute conducts applied, multidisciplinary research into textbooks and educational media, informed primarily by history and cultural studies. It also provides advisory services to national and international education policymakers, practitioners and organisations, and acts as a coordinator and mediator in international issues and projects around textbooks. Research, knowledge transfer and research infrastructure services are all closely interconnected at the GEI; as a non-university institution both carrying out and facilitating research into textbooks and educational media, the institute is on its way to becoming an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the field.
One of the principal attractions of the GEI to researchers from around the world is its research library, whose collection of history, social studies, religious studies and geography textbooks is unparalleled worldwide. The GEI’s information and communication gateway Edumeres.net provides virtual access to the world of textbook and educational media research; among its principal features are the user-led textbook reviews it publishes. The institute’s extensive programme of fellowships and scholarships is dedicated to raising awareness of textbooks and research into them and advancing academic work in the field, as is its research award for outstanding work in the area and its support scheme for visiting academics. The year 2012 saw the inception of the “Textbook of the Year” award, with which the GEI honours excellence in educational media annually at the Leipzig Book Fair.
Textbooks: a hot topic
The condensed and canonical character of the information selected for and presented in textbooks gives them central significance in academic, political and educational respects. Textbooks, as carriers of the knowledge and information that one generation wishes to pass on to the next, frequently find themselves at the centre of political controversy. They may promote prejudice and animosity, yet can also contribute to reconciliation and peace-building.
Textbook research at the GEI
In comparison with established academic disciplines such as history and sociology, research into textbooks is a relatively new field and is not yet represented as a subject at universities. This situation makes it all the more crucial for those working in the field, and approaching it from a range of academic disciplines and regional contexts, to have recourse to a space for scholarly discussion and mutual support and a resource for the provision of data, sources and information. The GEI is that space; its internationally renowned research library, its publications, its fellowship programme, its wide range of events, and not least the many researchers working there make for a stimulating, inspiring and supportive atmosphere for academics engaged in research into educational media.