This focal point follows the KMK’s (Kultusministerkonferenz, i.e. Standing Conference of the German Federal States’ Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs) recommendations on intercultural education and training in schools from 2013. In these recommendations, the KMK identified intercultural skills as a cross-sectional task within school education and highlighted the importance of intercultural school development for ensuring high quality schooling. In the framework of this focal point, the ZBI therefore concentrates on the enhancement of intercultural openness in schools on a theoretical and practical level. We examine school as an institution to assess whether its structures, classrooms, guiding principles, teaching methods and materials, curricula, and educational tools, attitudes, rules, routines, distribution of resources, and forms of communication appropriately portray and reflect our ethnically diverse society. We explore ways to successfully acknowledge and appreciate ethnical, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in schools and the classroom. With this goal in mind, we collect and analyse data on intercultural school and instruction development. The data is collected partly in the context of training research seminars, so-called “Projektbänder” (teaching lines), from schools cooperating with the University of Hildesheim. The participating students in these seminars then question their own actions, practices, and routines of dealing with diversity and discuss them from a theoretical point of view focusing on the teacher profession. What kind of professional attitude do schools need in an ethnically diverse society? What kind of skills do teachers need and how can these skills be implemented into teacher training in an effective and sustainable manner? These questions were also addressed in the ZBI’s inauguration conference in 2014, “Migration and education: theory and practice of an intercultural teacher training and school development”, which had a strong international focus.

Close cooperation with the Georg-Eckert-Institute – Leibniz-Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) has led to the introduction of the working focus "diversity in educational media" in 2014. Its main emphasis has been on analysing the representation and portrayal of social diversity in educational media. On one hand, forms of representation, ways of seeing, and discursive connections of social diversity are analysed. On the other hand, the production process, the quality and function of the respective medium of education, as well as its appropriation, function, effect, and reception are examined.

Following the GEI’s research work, textbooks have also emerged as a special topic of research at the ZBI, especially for students' training to be teachers. For instance, since 2013 there has been an annual excursion seminar on diversity in textbook research conducted by Prof. Dr. Georgi. In the seminar, the students are guided in the process of realising small research projects of their own at the GEI. Their research work is presented within a project exchange including a poster exhibition.

In 2014/15, together with the GEI, the ZBI conducted the Textbook Study Migration and Integration commissioned by the Federal Commissioner for Migration and Refugees. The research project examined how migration and integration are represented in German textbooks in relation to social diversity. The results of this study were published in 2015 and presented at various symposia, for instance in the Federal Chancellery. It is available online as a free pdf download here.

Textbook Study Migration and Integration

The research project was commissioned by the Federal Commissioner for Migration and Refugees and carried out in cooperation with Georg Eckert Institute – Institute for International Textbook Reasearch. It examines how integration is currently handled as a subject in educational media. Integration has almost never been the explicit topic of studies on textbooks.

The study concentrates on the following three issues:

1)  How are the subjects integration and migration represented in textbooks? (regarding present and past migratory flows, the constitution of national government, successful integration versus conflicts, displacement and naturalisation, the colonial state between inclusion and exclusion, etc.)

2)  What strategy do textbooks pursue to promote a reflected position towards diversity and a consolidated intercultural competence? (regarding the problematisation of xenophobia, prejudices, discrimination and racism, an education towards open-mindedness, approachability and inclusive thinking, etc.)

3)  Is cultural diversity represented? Are different ways of life depicted? (regarding the representation of different cultural and ethnic groups living in German society, the depiction of the conflict between mainstreaming and inclusion in society, representations of heterogeneity between stereotypes and diversity, etc.)

The study can be classified as discourse analytical textbook research. It analyses the language of textbooks and uncovers a dominating social knowledge that is socio-politically legitimated by its inclusion in textbooks. This knowledge pretends to be scientifically founded.

Textbooks for lower and upper secondary level (9th-12thgrade) and for the subjects social studies, politics, history, and geography are examined. The examined books were selected from three different federal states. The analysis considers textbooks for grammar schools, comprehensive schools, and secondary modern schools.

Press reports on the study
Conference Textbook Study Migration and Integration

In the course of our inauguration conference (20 – 22 February 2014), we looked at intercultural teacher training and school development.

Teachers with a migration background

More diversity in the staff room: For several years now, educational policy has called for the percentage of teachers with a migration background in German schools to be increased. Specific expectations are attached to the teachers’ biographical background with respect to education as well as integrational policy. This site provides information on results, studies, and research topics.



As a result of migration, there has been a rapid increase in cultural and linguistic pluralisation of students in Germany. This development has not been matched by a similarly growing pluralisation of teachers. Yet as studies from classical immigration countries suggest, teachers with a migration background can contribute to creating inclusive educational processes which reflect multilingualism and are interculturally oriented. It is also suggested that they serve as role models. Increasing the percentage of teachers with a migration background seems to be one of the keys to more integration, participation, and success in school for migrant students.

The study takes a close look at these issues in a qualitative as well as quantitative empirical examination. A questionnaire survey with 200 teachers and 60 biographical interviews as well as a theme-based analysis of the content allow for a close description of the specific educational biographies and school experiences of teachers with a migration background in Germany. The analysis of the empiric data ranges from the factors of success to the interaction in the school sector, from the way of dealing with multilingualism and heterogeneity to experiences of discrimination in educational institutions. With this, the exploratory study allows for a basic overview of the self-image and the work of teachers with a migration history in German schools. The study was funded by the non-profit Hertie Foundation and the ZEIT Foundation Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius.

Educational policy has called for the percentage of teachers with a migration background in German schools to be increased for nearly ten years now. Specific expectations are attached to the teachers’ biographical background with respect to education as well as integrational policy. However, the hypothesis that teachers possess special intercultural skills merely thanks to their (or their family’s) experience of migration has not yet been empirically substantiated, nor has it been based on a sound theoretical approach. With this extensive presentation of current findings of qualitative and quantitative empirical studies on teacher training and teacher-student-relations in the context of an ethnically diverse society, its publishers aim to make a contribution on two levels: firstly, to contribute to a scientific discourse on the relevance of the category "migration background" in the context of professional teaching, and secondly, to contribute to the political debate and the conceptual development of teacher training in the context of an ethnically diverse society. The publication therefore addresses scientifically interested practitioners, actors in the field of educational policy, scientists, and those who work in teacher training.

Conference: From the multicultural classroom to a multicultural staff room

From the multicultual classroom to a multicultual staff room – potential and limits of international school development

On the occasion of the study “Diversity among teachers” (German original title “Vielfalt im Lehrerzimmer”), the conference, which was hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, provided another opportunity to discuss diversity among teachers.

Press reports
More diversity in the classroom, 6 June 2013

Teachers with a migration background are well sought-after in Germany. Yet their educational training rarely prepares them for their special role. Teacher training at the University of Hildesheim sets a better example.

Diversity among teachers: great expectations, 27 November 2012

One in three pupils in German schools comes from an immigrant family. The teachers’ side does not reflect this reality: only one in twenty teachers has a migration background. The percentage is supposed to be increased, not least because great expectations are placed on the new teachers. They have to help immigrant children integrate as well as facilitate greater success at school. A study has investigated this for the first time.

Teachers with a migration background: diversity among teachers, 12 December 2011

Great expectations are placed on attracting more migrants to the teacher profession. However, German students also have to learn how to handle diversity in the classroom better.


Prof. Dr. Viola Georgi


Nadin Tettschlag