Democracy and its Endangerment

The perception of democracy, but also its endangerment by various effects, is one of the biggest contemporary issues in Europe and all over the world. To a certain degree, some of the EU memberstates more and more seem to challenge the notion of democracy. Nevertheless, democracy, with ist origin in ancient Greece, is one of Europe’s supporting pillars. In their role as future grown-ups, pupils eventually will have to look for an adequate and feasible mode of political participation and how to get themselves involved personally. Therefore, already at school level it is very important to raise awareness of this responsibility both in teachers and in pupils and to consider ways of personal commitment discussing the foundation of democracy and also its endangerment.The intention of our proposed project is to make youths more sensitive for the foundations of European society by an interdisciplinary debate on notions of democracy both in the ancient world and today, on various ways of democratic participation, on structures of power, and on threats to democracy. Working together on a common European level here seems of utmost importance to us to learn to understand the diversity of opinions and decisions in the different European countries, to enter a joint discussion and to arrive at a well-reasoned point of view. In the discussion of ancient ways of thinking and forms of democratic involvement, but also of critical opinions they find out to what extent European countries were – and still are - able to fall back on a rich heritage when developing their own forms of democracy. In addition to that, there will be a debate on this heritage also in terms of symbols and anti-symbols, also in the sense of aesthetic reception. Assisted by their teachers and also by external partners, the participating pupils not only think about these topics but also do this in some creative forms of occupation (photographic work, theatrical performance, exhibition); special know-how and contacts of the participating schools will be employed for this purpose. Teachers and pupils will publish their activities via a common home page ( and will develop material also to be useful on a broader level.

In some more detail, the various goals can be described as follows:

1. Enhancement of expert knowledge and technical competence

a. Modes of democracy in former times and today including practical rhetorical training and exercises

b. Threats to democracy from lower class and high up

c. Critical views on democracy in ancient and present times

d. Democracy in various circumstances with respect to location and time

e. Relation between political and economic power in ancient and present times

f. Democracy and (anti-)symbols

g. Democracy and art


2. Enhancement of social competence and soft skills by working together on European level

a. Inspecting and debating differing opinions and decisions in different European countries

b. Learning together and learning from each other for teachers and pupils by actively working together, both in reality and virtually

c. Possibility of exchange in some broader environment of the schools

d. Collaboration with external partners in situ


3. Enhancement of methodical competence

a. To bring some innovative ways of teaching and learning into classical studies at school by presenting new material about important issues of today

b. Collaboration with various fields of profession and their ways of work (museum and drama educators, political scientists, photographers, journalists, web designers, ...)


The age of the participating pupils will be between 13 and 18. All pupils within this group of age will be invited, so the number of pupils from a specific school may vary between 20 and 50. However, a fact of major importance for us will be to involve as many of the participating pupils as possible insome cross-national activity. We also emphasize the relation between extracurricular and curricular activity; on a longer-term base, the project will also have influence on the work of each of the participating schools and on the training of teachers. Each of the in-situ meetings will be dedicated to a special topic which will be prepared and followed up at the different participating schools. This will also include some practical work in workshops. The pupils will work together in mixed cross-national groups. As specific results we expect the presentations on the home page for schools with focus on classics, the work on a theatrical performance in Amsterdam and one or more exhibitions. In addition to that, material will be presented to be used in teacher trainings.

Partner Schools: First Gymnasium of Heraklion, Deftero Peiramatiko Gymnasio (Saloniki); Klassisches Gymnasium “Walther von der Vogelweide“ Bozen, Wittelsbacher Gymnasium München, Bundesgymnasium Rein, Barlaeus-Gymnasium Amsterdam