Background and objectives of the project

Issues of diversity, along with the powerful social and cultural dynamics of a globalizing world, are visible in national discourses in the field of education. Against this backdrop, processes of harmonization and universalization can also be observed in many countries around the world; especially in the European Union. Such developments, on the one hand, represent an opportunity for mutual understanding, partnership, cooperation and mobility, as education systems are becoming increasingly congruent. On the other hand, societies are shaped by different cultural milieus with their own educational values and practices. Due to recent processes of migration and globalization, educational and learning cultures have become more diverse. Institutions of early childhood education have to meet increasing challenges with the effect that education systems need professionals with broad cultural competences. Furthermore, a growing number of students in ECE courses have diverse cultural and educational backgrounds. The major challenge of societies is not only to accept these educational differences but to further develop the educational system by including different cultural views in order to create a new common basis of collaboration in education, with inclusion and diversity as priority.

Against this background, our project ‘Reflecting Cultures of Education – Transnationality and Cultural Awareness in Early Childhood Education Programs (RECOdE) aims to further develop the early childhood education study programs of the project partners.

Our project group consists of three universities: University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd (Germany), the University of Stavanger (Norway), and the Dublin City University (Ireland). Our collaboration was founded in 2017 in the context of the international research network ‘Cultures of Early Childhood Education and Care (CECEC)’ that focuses in general on the investigation of cultural conditions of early childhood education and care. With the ‘RECOdE-project’, we want to further develop our study programs beyond an ethnocentric, west-European, industrial society perspective. Thus, the project partners will develop a common bachelor module and summer school in order to sensitize students in cultural diversity and foster students’ cultural competences. In doing so, a toolkit concerning ‘cultures of early childhood education’ will be developed that can be offered to each training institution.


In a nutshell, RECOdE has the following goals:

  • To raise awareness of different cultural perspectives on education among faculty and students – taking into account globalization and the transmission of cultural heritage.
  • To include diverse cultural views in early childhood education courses to broaden the perspective on education and to counteract an ethnocentric, Western perspective.
  • Acquisition of basic and advanced cultural competencies by students for working with young children and their families in migration societies.

We are seeking to develop the following outcomes:

  • A Framework for Cultural Awareness
  • A common Module at B.A. level
  • A Program for a Summer School at M.A. level
  • A “toolkit” for Cultures of Education with didactic materials

Our Concept of Culture

The concept of culture is widely discussed in the context of social science and education research and different philosophical, theoretical and empirical perspectives are related thereto. In our project, culture means a set and a complex of shared values and practices as well a process of co-construction and (re-)production of making sense of the world. In this sense, culture can be seen as a social construction produced in processes of interaction and communication. That means, culture is a fluid, changing, and dynamic phenomena related to power structures, social inequality and injustice.