What is the “Mapping civic education in Europe”?

Mapping civic education in Europe is one of our key programmes. Together with partners, we are identifying the main actors of civic education in Europe, both in non-formal and informal civic education. We are learning what are the topics they work with, which groups of society are they focusing on, and whether and how they cooperate with others. Finally, we are analysing their needs to help inform the work of those supporting civil society in Europe.

What will the results be?

A first-ever pan-European virtual map of civic educators, with first results showcased in a report titled “Great Expectations: Demands and Realities. of Civic Education in Europe”. Selected countries have been featured in the LSE Ideas blog.

Who is doing the project?

The project is developed and implemented by THE CIVICS Innovation Hub with the support of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb). The project is being implemented with the help of local partners in each of the mapped countries. Our local partners have a key role in the process. They not only support us to identify civic education actors in each country being mapped but also offer invaluable insights into the local ecosystems of civic education. You can see all local partners on our website here.

THE CIVICS Innovation Hub is a pan-European non-profit organisation. The mission is to strengthen the democratic competence, self-efficacy, and resilience of citizens across Europe in a bottom-up manner. THE CIVICS is empowering citizens & civic educators to deal with major challenges of our time, such as the geopolitical situation, threats to democracy, energy insecurity, causes and effects of climate change, political polarization and social divides.

How do we define “civic education”?

While conducting a mapping and network analysis of civic education stakeholders in Europe we apply a definition of civic education following the wording and recommendation of the Council of Europe.

Civic education equips citizens with the competencies that enable them to actively participate in society. These civic competencies are:

  • knowledge (i.e., concepts of democracy, institutions, identity, politics)
  • skills (i.e., communication, discussion culture, thinking critically, problem solving, (self-) reflection, awareness of bias and blind spots)
  • democratic values (i.e., valuing human dignity and human rights, equality, transparency, cultural diversity)
  • attitudes (i.e., openness to otherness, trust, respect, tolerance, responsibility, self-efficacy).

How do we define “non-formal” and “informal” civic education?

In our mapping, we encompass both non-formal and informal civic education. Whereas formal education covers activities prescribed by the curricula, in elementary, secondary, high-school and tertiary education, non-formal education refers to planned, structured programmes and processes of personal and social education primarily for young people designed to improve a range of skills and competencies, outside the formal educational curriculum, while informal education refers to lifelong learning processes, whereby each individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from educational influences and resources in his or her own environment and from daily experience.

Where and when is it taking place?

The first round of mapping has taken place in 21 European countries from November 2021 to December 2022. In four cycles we have mapped the following countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Croatia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. Turkey has been included through an expert opinion piece.

Building upon positive reactions, the mapping initiative is set to expand this year, encompassing 10 more countries: Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, through expert opinion pieces, the project will extend its reach to include Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. Data collection in these countries is foreseen to start in September 2023.

How does the mapping process look like?

The methodology of the mapping is separated into two stages. In the first stage, a list of initial contacts of civic education actors is collected by the local partners in each country. We approach them with a request to fill in an online questionnaire. While filling out the questionnaire, respondents are asked to recommend further civic education actors they know and cooperate with. Afterwards, recommended contacts are approached with the request to fill in the questionnaire, this way expanding the outreach of the mapping through a snowballing method.

In the second stage, we send a shorter questionnaire to the civic education actors who have filled in the initial survey, this time indicating their relationship to other respondents. The second stage of the mapping identifies existing civic education networks in each of the mapped countries.

Our mapping is not a research project and does not strive to achieve a representative sample in the country.

Who is eligible to be mapped?

A variety of organizations together with individuals who actively implement activities in the field of civic education defined above are eligible to be mapped. Our focus is set on non-governmental organizations, networks, foundations, experts in the profession, and social media influencers on the topic.

Will the map be updated regularly?

Yes, we understand that the map depicts the situation at a given time and we wish to update the map regularly. Actors from the 21 countries encompassed in 2021-2022 interested to be showcased on the map can fill out a form and be included on the map.

Why should I/my organization participate?

The results from the questionnaire will demonstrate the relationships in civil society, by giving visibility to you and others in the field. Our mapping will help inform not only the activities of THE CIVICS but also the work of large international and national civil society organizations, grant-making programmes, networks, researchers and academia.

How can I/my organization participate?

If you are interested in participating in the mapping, you can go to our interactive map where you will find a “Become part of this map” option. Upon clicking, you will be directed to a form where you can enter your data. Following a brief review by our team, your information will be made visible on the map. This option is only available for actors from 21 countries encompassed in the 2021-2022.

For 10 countries encompassed in the 2023 mapping, actors recommended to us by the local partner will be receiving a questionnaire in the fall.