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GesDimS Logo in grüner Schrift auf weißem Hintergrund
Photo: Florian Seidel

"GesDimS" - Societal-Democratic Engagement as a Dimension of Student Success is a BMBF-funded joint project of the University of Potsdam and the Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg (HoF). The project pursues two central research questions:

  1. How does societal-democratic engagement among students develop over the course of their studies?
  2. Is the development of societal-democratic engagement monitored and promoted by the quality management of higher education institutions?

Within the joint project, the University of Potsdam addresses the first research question and the Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg the second. To investigate its research question, the University of Potsdam is supplementing the existing student panel with a question module on societal-democratic engagement. Surveys are planned at three points in time. In addition, educational biographical interviews with dropouts and graduates will be conducted.

Findings on the development of societal-democratic engagement in the course of studies are still rare, since the assessment of higher education performance in studies and teaching tends to be based on economic efficiency criteria. Although higher education correlates positively with both political/social engagement and related attitudes (political interest, pro-democratic values, etc.), the extent to which this participation is fostered by studying is largely unexplored. It also remains to be investigated whether this engagement was already present before the start of studies and to what extent dropouts also participate in these democratization processes through (partial) academization. How this development is intentionally promoted by the universities also remains to be investigated. Against the backdrop of developments such as the rise of extreme right-wing groups and declining trust in politics, the study of such issues is of particular relevance.

The project is jointly realized by the Chair for Methods of Empirical Social Research at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Potsdam (Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kohler), the Center for Quality Development in Teaching and Learning (Department of University Studies) and the Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg.

Presentation of the project at the BMBF transfer conference: "Many paths lead to success"

Presentation of the Project at the European Quality Assurance Forum 2022 (Timisoara, Rumania) [in English]

Contact persons:

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kohler
Moira De Angelis (on parental leave)
Dorothea Harles
Maria Rettkowitz
Frank Niedermeier

Prof. Dr. Peer Pasternack
Dr. Britta Behm
Sophie Korthase (student assistant)

Contact: gesdimsuni-potsdamde

This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under funding code 01PX21009A. The author is responsible for the content of this publication.