Didactics of Social Sciences at Gießen: a tradition of its own. The Justus-Liebig-University plays an outstanding role as a scientific centre of the didactics of social sciences in the Federal Republic of Germany. As early as in the 1960s, during the early period of the development of subject-related didactics of scientific disciplines, two of the Federal Republic´s most important theorists of political education, Kurt Gerhard Fischer and Wolfgang Hilligen, were offered chairs at Gießen. With the foundation of the former Department of Social Sciences in 1971, at first an operating unit and from 1976 on an independent “Institute of the Didactics of Social Sciences” were founded. In the 1970s up to five chairs belonged to this institute. Apart from Fischer and Hilligen, the following scientists occupied these chairs: Gertrud Beck, Rolf Schmiederer, Klaus Wallraven, and Siegfried George. During this time not only influential subject-related didactical theories on political education were developed at Gießen but also wide-spread series of textbooks. In 1982 the First Federal Congress on Political Education happened at Gießen.
Caption: At the First Federal Congress on Political Education: Kurt Gerhard Fischer (left) talking to then Federal Minister of the Interior, Gerhart Baum (photography: Ernst Vogt, Bremen)
The significance of Didactics of Social Sciences at Gießen beyond the region is emphasized by the fact that numerous scientists from Gießen have been offered chairs at other universities:
(in brackets the place of the first chair after Gießen):
Gertrud Beck (Frankfurt/M.), Rolf Schmiederer (Oldenburg), Klaus Wallraven (Göttingen), Bernd Henning (Karlsruhe), Michele Borrelli (Cosenza), Wolfgang Sander (Jena), Eberhard Jung (Karlsruhe), Peter Henkenborg (Dresden), Carla Schelle (Mainz).
Crisis and re-organization
As a result of teacher unemployment in those days and a decline in numbers of students there were dramatic job cuts in the 1980s: four out of five chairs were abandoned after the positions had been unoccupied. As late as in 1998, with Wolfgang Sander being offered a chair at the Justus-Liebig-University, it was the first time after two decades that a chair was newly occupied in our subject at Gießen. Since then we have been successful with stabilizing the situation and developing a number of new focal themes. In 1999, at our university there happened the founding congress of the Gesellschaft für Politikdidaktik und politische Jugend- und Erwachsenenbildung (GPJE) (Society of Political Didactics and Political Education for Young People and Adults), which is the scientific subject-related society of our subject.
Caption: The founding members of GPJE during the founding congress at Schloss Rauischholzhausen in 1999 (photography: Anja Besand)
In 2001, in the course of re-organizing departments at the Justus-Liebig-University, we newly founded the current “Institute of School Education and Didactics of Social Sciences” (ISD), together with chairs of school education from educational science. The ISD understands itself to be an interdisciplinary institute which among others intends to create new stimulations for cross-subject co-operation in the field of teachers training.