BM86: Resolution on Fundamental Values, Education for  Democracy and Citizenship Education 

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Fundamental Values, Education for Democracy and Citizenship Education 

The relationship between values and education has garnered increased attention in recent years. Within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a common understanding of the fundamental values (i.e. academic freedom, institutional autonomy, student and staff participation, responsibility for and of higher  education, academic integrity) underpinning the Bologna process and a monitoring framework are being developed.

Within the Council of Europe, the Reference Framework  of Competences for Democratic Culture and the future European Space for Citizenship  Education which is currently under development, are just a few of the building blocks of the 2023 “learners frst” education strategy. And in the EU, the Council recommendation on promoting common values, the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment  (STOA) panel and work on academic freedom, as well the  Commissions work (including Directorate-General Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) and Directorate-General Research and Innovation(DG RTD)) on academic values in science, research and education, encompassing also the European Education Area, are just a few of the initiatives taken by EU institutions.  

Whether to call them fundamental, common or European values, recognising that higher education is intertwined with societal developments, it’s imperative to safeguard these values amidst rising support for autocratic and extremist ideologies all across the continent, with attacks on academic freedom from outside and within the academic community are at a record high. 

 The goal is twofold: Firstly, to protect academia including students and staff, as only a truly free, autonomous and democratic academia can fulfl its various missions, including teaching, learning, research and supporting society in tackling various challenges such as demographic change, social injustice and environmental issues (i.e. the “civic mission”). And, secondly, to foster values within the academic community, promoting democratic ideals, tolerance for diverging opinions and diverse ways of living, and intercultural understanding, amongst others. 

 Education for democracy, including active citizenship is essential to foster competences regarding values, attitudes, knowledge and critical understanding and skills. Additionally, active citizenship needs to be lived. Students need to be meaningfully engaged in higher education governance on all levels, while also having opportunities to shape the student environment both on and off campus, with the broader goal of installing a desire in students to continue to be active citizens upon graduation. 

 ESU welcomes the various efforts being currently made to promote and safeguard the fundamental and common values in higher education, including the developments within the EHEA and the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, for this to be truly successful, we call upon higher education decision-makers and stakeholders on all levels to translate the commitments made by systematically integrating active citizenship and education for democracy into curricula across disciplines and by implementing meaningful engagement of students in higher education governance and decision-making. This requires the involvement of all relevant stakeholders of the academic community from the outset to ensure genuine success.


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