New Perspectives for Learning - Briefing Paper 56

Challenges for education and training policies and research arising from European integration and enlargement 

This is the 2nd Interim Briefing Paper of the project that started in September 2001


With a history strongly rooted in an economic context, the EU aim of moving towards a “Knowledge based society” can be regarded a rather recent development, more devoted to the role of the EU in global competition. The concept of a “European society” focuses more on the process of European integration and might be sketched as a society where citizens will have “the feeling of belonging to the European Union” while at the same time being rooted in regional traditions and cultures. The European integration process thus includes both elements: the development of supra-national structures and identities, and the preservation and development of regional and national cultural characteristics. As the attempt of equal partners to establish common economic, financial and legal structures while at the same time cherishing cultural traditions, the EU integration is historically without precedent. This dynamic and not conflict-free interplay of factors is a special characteristic of the European integration that presents a particular challenge as it offers unique opportunities.

At the same time, EU integration and enlargement are taking place in the context of some larger trends:

  • the globalisation of economies leading to the restructuring of learning related policies as an element of international competition;
  • the implementation of a knowledge-based society accompanied by the institutional and contextual adaptation of learning related policies towards the needs of the emerging learning society;
  • The Eastern European countries’ move towards market economy.

Framed by these broader trends the Thematic network EURONE&T investigates the impact of the European integration and enlargement processes on learning related policies[1] in EU member and accession countries. Special attention is given to the issue how these change processes are related to the strategic aim of creating a European knowledge-based or learning society.

EURONE&T does not limit itself to education and training policies but builds upon the term 'learning related policies' in order to include a broader range of policy fields that relate to learning, such as labour market policies, education and training policies and science and technology policies. Thus EURONET is based on a wide interdisciplinary approach and involves other than educational research. 

The discourse about a Learning Society is not restricted to Europe, but a topic on the international research and policy agendas. EURONET has therefore extended its discourses about the vision of a Learning Society towards a global context. EURONET has invited scholars from Asia (China, Korea, Japan), Russia, the US and Canada, South-America, Australia, New-Zealand, India and Arabian Societies to participate in a global discourse about the Learning Society and related post modern Society concepts.

The notion of a knowledge-based or learning society constitutes the aim of devising learning related policies at a European, and increasingly at national levels. A learning society can be considered a society where knowledge and continuous learning occupy a central position and affect all aspects of economic, political or social life. Different from mainstream discourses, which a rather focused on economic, technological and institutional issues EURONET put the learning citizens at the centre of its work. This central position of the learner is important to EURONE&T when analysing learning related policies in the present context.

EURONE&T investigates the impact of the European integration and enlargement processes on learning related policies in EU member and accession countries with special regard to their contributions to creating and supporting the learning citizen.

Factors considered by EURONE&T include a) political, cultural and historical features that influence the generation of the learning citizen, b) developments towards EU integration, and c) factors that result from transition challenges. These interrelated factors and their dynamic interplay constitute the general topics of the project and are addressed from different perspectives by the four thematic EURONET domains guiding the interdisciplinary discourses among scholars from Europe and abroad.

Framework Domain:

The Learning Society visions in Europe and beyond

Thematic domain 1:

Learning related policies in member states/regions between internationalised challenges and national systems. 

Thematic domain 2: 

Learning related policies and EU enlargement from the perspective of member states and candidate countries during transition to market economy in accession countries.

Thematic domain 3:

Learning related policies from the European perspective: European policies and research.

Learning related policies include various policy fields and are also devised and implemented at different policy levels opening up a range of possibilities regarding the combination of policy fields and levels concerned. All of these different fields and policy levels are addressed by EURONE&T, here again focused on the central question of their contribution to creating and supporting the learning citizen.

Deriving from this general outline, a number of questions are pursued that evolve around the central topic of the thematic network: the impact of the European integration and enlargement processes on learning related policies in EU member and accession countries with special regard to their contributions to creating and supporting the learning citizen.

Key Issues

The discourse about the learning society visions and interplay between national and European policies in the fields of education and training, science and technology and labour market is being addressed from different perspectives covering learning related policies in the light of European integration and enlargement:

1.   The conceptualisation of learning related policies and research in post modern society discourses as learning, information or knowledge based societies.

Key issues involve:

2.   Learning related policies in member states and regions between internationalised challenges and national systems –the perspective of member states and regions. Key issues involve:

3.   Challenges and opportunities of EU integration and enlargement –the perspective of new member states and candidate countries in the period of transition.

Key issues involve:

4.   Learning related policies and learning related research – the view of the bodies of the European Union.

Key issues involve:

Further Information

The full title of the project is: “Towards the European Society: Challenges for Education and Training Policies and Research Arising from the European Integration and Enlargement”. The final report is due in April 2004.

The project website at:

Key Publications

The outcomes of the EURONET discourses are published in four books, published at P. Lang. (See books table of contents below)

“The Learning Society in Europe and beyond”
Edited by Michael Kuhn and Ronald Sultana

“Homo Sapiens Europeus?“- Creating the European Learning Citizen”
Edited by Michael Kuhn and Ronald Sultana

“The Clash of Transitions – Towards a Learning Society”
Edited by Olga Striestka

 “The European Learner – A new Global Player?”
Edited by Michael Kuhn

Research Institutions

Academic Information Centre, National Observatory, Latvia
Université Louis Pasteur, France
Forum for European Regional Policies, University of Bremen, Germany
Fafo Institute of Applied Social Science, Norway
Human Resource Development Centre, Bulgarian National Observatory, Bulgaria
Institute for Educational Sciences, Romania
National Training Fund, Czech Republic
Navreme Knowledge Development, Austria 
Tallin Technical University, Estonia
University of Stirling, United Kingdom
University of Tampere, Finland

Contact Person

Dr. Michael Kuhn
BFER, University of Bremen
Enrique-Schmidt Straße 7 (SFG)
28359 Bremen

Tel.  +49 421 218 42 80
Fax. +49 421 218 48 96

Books tables of contents

1. The Learning Society discourse In Europe and Abroad

Part 1:             Introduction

Chapter 1         The Learning Society Discourse in a Global Context           

    Michael Kuhn and Ronald Sultana

Part 2: The Learning Society in Europe

Chapter 2         “Perspectives on the Learning Society in Finland”

    Jari Kolehmainen

Chapter 3        Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society: The Evolution of Concepts and Research in the UK

    John Field

Chapter 4         “Towards a learning society from a French perspective”   

    Philippe Mehaut

Chapter 5        “Discourses of Learning Society: An Italian Literature Review”

    Paolo Landri

Chapter 6        Education for inclusion in the Information Society in Spain

                            Esther Oliver and Iolanda Tortajada

Chapter 7        ‘Learning society’ and ‘knowledge society’ – concepts and controversies in the German discourse

                            Doris Weidemann

Chapter 8       The Learning Society discourse in Europe

    John Field

Part 3:             The Learning Society in transition countries in Europe

Chapter 9:      Towards a Learning Society: The Russia Experience

                            Anna Muraveva

Chapter 10     Towards The Learning Society: Theoretical Concepts and EU Learning Related Policies

    Jaroslav Kalous

Chapter 11     The Learning society in Central and Eastern European countries: an analysis of 8 country studies

                        Ewa Slezak

Part 4: The Learning Society beyond Europe

Chapter 12      The Learning Society discourse in the US and Canada

                        Daniel Schurugensky

Chapter 13     The Brazilian scientific discourse about the Information Society and its variations

Rodeli Rodriguez de Mello and Paulo Eduardo Gomes Bento

Chapter 14      Public policies and scientific discourse about the Learning Society in the countries of South America

Donatilla Ferrada

Chapter 15            The Learning Society discourse in Japan

Yukiko Sawano     

Chapter16 Learning Societies in East Asia: Comparing the  Learning Society discourses in China, South Korea and Japan

Yukiko Sawano

Chapter17             Towards a Learning Society: The New Zealand Experience

                        Catherine Casey

Chapter 18            The idea of a Learning Society: an Australian perspective

                        Terry Seddon

Chapter 19            Discourses and Challenges of Building a Learning Society in India

                        Madhu Singh

Chapter 20            Learning Society and Knowledge Society in South African Debates

                        Shirley Walters

Chapter 21            The Learning Societies in Arabian Societies

                        Andre Elias Mazawi


2. Homo Sapiens Europæus? - Creating the European Learning Citizen

Chapter 1            Creating the European learning citizen: which citizen for which Europe?

Michael Kuhn and Ronald G. Sultana

Chapter 2 The case of the UK: Homo Sapiens Europaeus vs Homo Quaestuosus Atlanticus? European Learning Citizen or Anglo-American Human Capitalist?

Roger Dale and Susan Robertson

Chapter 3            Danish learning traditions in the context of the European Union

Palle Rasmussen

Chapter 4 Training measures at an interplay between national and Community policies for social integration

Ewa Ślęzak

Chapter 5 Governance and the learning citizen: tensions and possibilities in the shift from national to post-national identities

John Field and Mark Murphy

Chapter 6        Knowledge in the bazaar: pro-active citizenship in the learning society

António M. Magalhães and Stephen R. Stoer

Chapter 7        The modification of learning through cultural traditions and societal structures Gabriele Laske

Chapter 8        National and European policies for lifelong learning: an assessment of developments within the context of the European Employment Strategy

Mark Stuart and Ian Greenwood

Chapter 9       Who can drive the education and training dimension of the National Action Plans? Ewart Keep

Chapter 10      Lifelong learning for civic employees and employable citizens?

Odd Bjørn Ure

Chapter 11      Making citizens: from belonging to learning

Terri Seddon and Suzanne Mellor

Chapter 12     Models of lifelong leaning and the knowledge economy/society in Europe: what regional patterns are emerging?

Andy Green

Chapter 13       Manufacturing the ‘European’

Anja Heikkinen

Chapter 14      Europe and the curriculum for teachers

Dominique Ulma

3. The clash of transitions - Towards the learning society

Chapter 1.       The clash of transitions.

Olga Strietska-Ilina

Chapter 2.       Is ‘learning society’ a credible concept in central and east European countries?

Liliana Voicu

Chapter 3         Living up to Lisbon and the Europe of knowledge: policies for lifelong learning and the challenges for the transition countries

Juraj Vantuch

Chapter 4          Transitions from schooling to working life: some aspects of convergence and divergence across the expanding European Union

Tom Leney

Chapter 5         Knowledge production and national innovation capacity in transition

Tamás Pál

Chapter 6         Learning challenges for social inclusion in transition economies

Adela- Luminita Rogojinaru

Chapter 7        Guiding learners / workers in the information / learning society: the situation in selected central and east European countries

Ronald G. Sultana

Chapter 8        Scenarios and strategies for vocational education and training and lifelong learning in Europe with a special attention to developments in central and east European countries

Burkart Sellin

[1] The term 'policies' is understood to stretch from 'intentions' to concrete measures of implementation. 'Policies' are represented by laws, government programs, constitutions, decrees, whereas 'measures' are actions that put these intentions into practice (in various areas, to various degrees). EURONE&T aims at reflecting and mapping ‘learning related policies’ with respect to both aspects of the term.

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Last updated 28 June 2007