Proposed European Thematic Network

Children's Social and Economic Learning and Understanding within a European Identity

Issue 3a: November 1997
Newsletter of the Draft Planning Group

This issue of the Newsletter is sent in this form ONLY to members who have not sent me their e-mail address. If you receive this and do have e-mail, please send me your address.

I am writing with further information and suggestions about the proposed Network. We now have members in 22 states, and are constructing what I believe what will be a very strong expression of initial interest. I have been in contact with officials in DGXXII (the Socrates Office) and am writing about a number of issues that have arisen. I would be grateful for your responses on the topics listed below::


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The First European Thematic Networks Forum - Dublin. October 1997

Following a meeting of Thematic Network Co-ordinators organised by the Commission in March 1997, it was agreed to convene a Forum in Dublin . Each Network was invited to send Project Leaders and Key Persons to the Forum on 15th and 16th October. I attended part of the forum as an observer, or behalf of the members of our proposed Network.

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Extending our proposal to include the development of modules for inclusion in HE programmes

I have since been corresponding with Willebrordus Sluyters, in DGXXII, about our draft proposals. I asked initially if there were any new networks (i.e. starting in September 1997) that were relevant to our proposal. I asked this because DGXXII are asking new approved networks to merge with existing networks where they think that there is an overlap in interests. The only possible new network is in Educational Planning, and M Sluyters states that, as far as he can see, this is not relevant to our proposal. He does, however, suggest that the Teacher Education network may have some common ground. I have looked at their web-site ( and think that we do not have an overlap, particularly as we have many members from the non-teacher education areas (in social psychology, political science, sociology, etc).

But M Sluyters also writes "In writing your proposal, please take into account that TN projects must focus on higher education. That is to say, the topic could only be the education of children up to the age of 15 if this issue is considered from the perspective of, for example, the higher education programmes for teachers who are going to educate those children. The high school or grammar school program as such is not acceptable as a topic for a TN project. I emphasise moreover that the topic must concern education and should not focus on research in a specific domain."

I do not think that we are in any danger here, provided that we emphasise our intention to share information about the learning/understanding of children in order to inform higher education courses (undergraduate and postgraduate level) in disciplines such as sociology (socialisation aspects), political science, social and economic psychology (including child development) and teacher education.

In order to do this, I am suggesting that we include in our proposal an undertaking to work towards establishing shared or common modules, in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) at a preliminary undergraduate, advanced undergraduate and a postgraduate levels. These modules would draw on case-study materials provided by members of the network as part of our sharing of data and information. Thus students would have access to, and have to use, examples drawn from several European states (using open/distance learning techniques). The modules would be designed so that they could be validated locally, as part of institutions' own programmes, in a variety of disciplines. There might even be an award in the area, based on the modules, in the future.

Given that the data will have direct relevance to how future citizens construct their identities - including a European identity - I think that this will make our proposal much stronger, particularly in the light of M Sluyter's comments. There are, of course, additional funding possibilities for such work through Socrates (ODL - Chapter 3 Action 2); ECTS - Chapter 1 Action 1); 4th Framwork (Telematics Area 3 for ODL), and possibly TESR.

Please send in comments on this as soon as possible.

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Suggestions for seeking financial support from commercial organisations

The report on the Dublin meeting shows that we will need to have other sources of support as well as what we might get from DGXXII.

I suggest that we might approach a number of commercial organisations to ask for substantial financial support over the three-year period. The organisations I am particularly suggesting are the major telecommunications companies - British Telecom, German telecommunications, French telecom, Spanish telecom, Italian telecom and Swedish telecom. The first five are in the ten largest telecommunications groups in the world. They are all relatively profitable, and some, at least, are committed to supporting community-type activities. The network that we are proposing will, of course, heavily use the technologies that they are providing. I propose that we make a co-ordinated approach: that I, as co-ordinator, write with a member of the relevant country, to each company, asking for substantial help (c 100,000 ecu a year), pointing out that we are asking all the major European telecom companies to offer similar support.

I would appreciate comment on this proposal. Assuming that there are not major objections from members to the proposal, I would secondly appreciate a volunteer from each of these states (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden) to (a) translate the letter and (b) sign the letter with me.

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Should we change our name?

Peter Eklundh from Lund suggests a shorter and more pointed name. I have an third suggestion. What do you think? Please let us know as soon as possible - or e-mail other ideas. Most TNPs have snappy abbreviations (eg TEMPERE - Training and Education in Medical Physics and Engineering Reformation in Europe) or other names (eg ATHENA - Advanced Thematic European Network of Activities in Women's Studies).

Our current title: Children's Social & Economic Learning and Understanding within a European identity

Peter Eklundh's suggestion: Children's Understanding and Learning of Citizenship, in the local, regional, national and European context

An alternative: Children and Citizenship in Europe

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No 5 (January '98)
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