Panel 2 (A-2): Perspective of Regions and Countries outside East Asia

Panel Coordinator: Kazuhiro Takeuchi (Osaka University, Japan)


Panel Abstract:


This panel will present regional differences in university history education through different cases dealt with by the first panel (A-1). The countries in question are one Southeast Asian country (Singapore) and three European countries, namely Greece (a Southern Mediterranean country), Sweden (a Northern Nordic country), and Germany (a Central European country).

The first speaker, Liu, intermediates between the first panel and the second one, by bringing up the topic from Singapore’s higher education and its globalization. He focuses on the significance of history education in the formation of national identity, with paying attention to the uniqueness and historical experience of Singapore in a changing East Asia.

            The second speaker, Takeuchi, starts an argument on multi-layered developments and current issues of history education in “European” countries. He presents us a quite unique case from Greece, by focusing on the efforts being made by the University of Athens toward civil society and “European” countries with an emphasis on Greek Antiquity.

            The third speaker, Furuya, introduces the Swedish cases of history education at universities, by explaining “the freedom of choice” as a key concept to understand the change of Swedish society of today. He also argues some issues on history education in the symbiotic society based on a comparison between Swedish case and Japanese case.

            The fourth speaker, Popp, focuses on “Public History” as a newly established Master’s programme at German universities. She compares the concepts of Public History and the Didactics of History, and critically addresses some questions to the subject.

These cases from European countries will decentralise the monolithic understanding of “European” models of history education from within. And by doing so, the panel as a whole will provide balanced vantage points for understanding differences and similarities of history education by sharing common interests on national identity, use of past, symbiotic society, and public history.




Globalizing History Education in Singapore: In Search of a National Identity and International Standards


Liu Hong (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)


As a young and multi-ethnic nation-state established only about half a century ago, Singapore has attached a great deal of importance to history education in the forming of national identity which is presumably based upon the uniqueness of its people, culture, politics and history. On the other hand, as one of the most globalized economies in the world, the country’s economic development—the key driving force behind higher education—has to be closely connected to international practices and standards, which may not be always in synergy with the quest for a national identity.

This paper aims at examining Singapore’s experience in globalizing its history education in the context of nation building. It begins with an overview of Singapore’s higher education and its globalization since the end of the 20thcentury, symbolized by the Autonomous Universities Act passed by the Parliament in 2005. The second part of this paper zooms in onto history curriculum, ideals, faculty and relevant research foci at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the only two universities in Singapore that have provided systematic and comprehensive history education at the levels of BA, MA and PhD. This discussion is partly derived from the author’s own experience of teaching at NUS and spearheading the establishment of the History Programme at NTU. The third part of this paper employs SG200—the commemoration of the bicentennial of the founding of modern Singapore after the landing of Thomas Raffles—as a case study to underline the dilemmas between national identity formation and the search for a global identity as reflected in history education and research. The conclusion will place Singapore’s experience in a comparative perspective of global initiative and history education in a changing East Asia.


History Education at the University of Athens and Archaeology in Greece


Kazuhiro Takeuchi (Osaka University, Japan)


Shortly after the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece in 1832, the first universitynot only in Greece but in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterraneanwas founded at Athens in 1837. The University of Athens, also known as the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, played a significant role in the modernization of Greece in terms of human resource development as well as symbolism in the capital landscape. At the same time, Greece has acquired a national identity through the discovery of antiquity and the use of the past. In this process, we should not overlook the establishment and educational contribution of foreign schools in Athens since the middle of the 19th century.

This study will examine the curriculum and programs of history education at the University of Athens of today, with a particular focus on the role of archaeology in Greece and beyond.The University of Athens now has 33 faculties at eight schools, of which history education is provided by the Faculty of History and Archaeology in the School of Philosophy. While divided into the Department of History and the Department of Archaeology and History of Art, both are closely interrelated in the faculty research and teaching. This paper will highlight their two recent efforts to the postgraduate program: 1) European Programs including “Mediterranean Doctoral School in History” and “European Master of Classical Cultures” and 2) English-taught Program of “MA in Greek and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology”.It can thus be said that historical and archaeological research and teaching in Greece still have global significance in academic activities and retain responsibility for civic society.


History Education at Universities of Sweden and “Freedom of Choice”


Daisuke Furuya (Osaka University, Japan)


From the perspective of Japan, Sweden seems to be one of the “unknown countries” in Europe. Almost of Japanese have still understood Sweden with labeling as “the welfare state” or “the experimental state”. On the other hand, they do not try to understand the historical development of Sweden based on the actual situation. One of the reasons of such Japanese views about Sweden might be caused from the historical view which has been recognized the historical development in Western Europe as a universal model of “World History”, which has been shared the historical education in Japan. For example, at the class of “World History” in Japan, the establishment of a “nation-state” is explained based on the experience of “the civil revolution”. However, Sweden has achieved the regime as “the welfare state” of today without such experience. Therefore, she becomes an unexplainable exception in the context of history education framework of Japan.

Such example of “absence” of Swedish understanding in Japan shows us a “pitfall” of the way of historical education to reduce the historical experience of certain regions to a specific historical pattern. The problem of historical education derived from reductionism will be one of the issues to be discussed together in today’s world where an understanding of the symbiotic societies is required. This paper will introduce the Swedish examples of historical education at universities in order to offer a basis for discussion about how to cultivate the perspective to understand individualities of the different regions in the historical education of today.

The key concept to understand the change of Swedish society of today is said to be to guarantee “the freedom of choice” for every Swedish citizen. Under the context of integration of Europe and increase of immigration, Sweden has been transformed from the society that forms a single “nation” through the forced homogenization to the society that allows “citizens” of diverse origins to coexist. When we take a glance at the historical education of Swedish universities, we can confirm that there are various courses tailored to the individual interest of students. It might appear as if it reflects the “freedom of choice” that the Swedish society of today seeks. In today’s Europe, where the regional integration has progressed under the “European Philosophy”, we have sometimes confirmed the universality of the name of “Europe” in conflict with the uniqueness of “regions”. Swedes of today are conscious of such axis of confrontation as one of the severe problems. In this paper, I would like to discuss some issues required for the historical education in the symbiotic society of today by comparing the Swedish case and Japanese case.


History Education in German Universities and the Role of Public History


Susanne Popp (University of Augsburg, Germany)


“Public History” has been established as a Master’s programme at several German universities for some years. These programmes are based on the application of historical methods and research questions (particularly related to modern and contemporaneous history), but focus on the public benefits of history, which go beyond the mere preservation of documents and scientific research, and on professional education and practice. Among the most important fields of work for which these programmes prepare are heritage culture, preservation of historical monuments, memorial work, history tourism, archives, oral history and museums.

This subject, which was newly constructed in the Federal Republic of Germany, has its origins in the university system of the United States, and consists of a mixture of museum education, didactics of history, mediation of history in the public, cultural management, public relations work and media skills.

Public History in Germany is organisationally separated from the history teacher training courses at the universities. The history teacher students study the subject “Didactics of History”, which is anchored at German universities within the historical sciences (and not in the educational sciences, as in many other countries). Nevertheless, there are some overlaps between the newly introduced Public History and the Didactics of History, an academic subject that has a long intellectual tradition in Germany. For the subject “Didactics of History” in German tradition is not limited to research on history teaching in schools, but also includes the analysis of the use of history in public (= “historical culture”). In contrast, the subject of Public History does not aim at teaching history in schools.

The lecture has two aims: On the one hand, it presents the Master’s programmes in Germany and compares the situation in other European countries. On the other hand, it compares the concepts of Public History and the Didactics of History and addresses some critical questions to Public History, which as an academic discipline is far less theoretically substantiated than the Didactics of History.