Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Lifelong Learning, Governance & Active Citizenship in Europe, Final Report of the ETGACE Research Project, EUR 21533

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00012


Across Europe, declining engagement in traditional democratic processes causes concern to governments, companies and other organisations, which are seen as increasingly remote from their stakeholders. A common response is to devolve decision-making in various ways. This requires active engagement by organisations and citizens at lower levels. Both organisations and individuals are called on to learn. The ETGACE project explored the nature of citizenship and governance, how people learned to be active citizens, and the nature and effectiveness of lifelong education interventions for citizenship, in six contrasting European countries.
The project found evidence of governments attempting to re-engage citizens in these ways. However, the sense of citizenship is embedded in each individual�s life history, and in their relationships with others, so no standard model for developing citizenship is applicable. Active citizens have a strong sense of responsibility, rooted in notions of justice and care. Early life experiences, particularly in the family and the community, are probably more important than the school in their motivation to become active. School education for citizenship seems to have played little part in the formation of individual active citizens, though extra-curricular community activities, and opportunities to take part in running their own school, appear to be helpful.
Active citizenship is a lifelong learning process. Learning citizenship is interactive, and deeply embedded in specific contexts. People learn relevant skills through actively trying to solve a problem or fulfil a mission, rather than through organised or institutionalised processes of learning. The outcomes of citizenship learning are unpredictable, and public interventions are most likely to be effective if they provide individuals with opportunities to explore and acquire skills in context, rather than through formal instruction.

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