ARALE: DASUN project

Zentrum für Allgemeine Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung (ZAWiW) der Universität Ulm

The DASUN project aimed to develop in cooperation with four universities and NGOs from 3 Danube countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Germany) concepts for academic continuing education program for older adults as a bridge between science and citizens, designed to fit to the local frame conditions. The concepts that have already been practiced by the Zentrum für Allgemeine Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung (ZAWiW) der Universität Ulm in Germany were individually adapted to the circumstances of each partner and subsequently implemented and evaluated, in order to develop sustainable concepts and educational praxis. The target group were older learners who took part in the pilot education events, as well as people in decision-making positions at the education organisations and cooperating NGOs in Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. The project was coordinated by the University Ulm in Germany together with partners Romania, Serbia and two organisations in Bulgaria between December 2010 and July 2011 and funded by two German foundations, Baden-Württemberg Foundation and Heidehof Foundation.

What was achieved?

The project DASUN contributed to the building of bridges between universities and NGOs in three Danube countries and fostered the idea of LLL and active ageing for older adults in the Danube Region. By developing such structures in the Danube Region in the future, older people get the change to stay informed, acquire new knowledge and develop personal skills. Furthermore, new possibilities of orientation and new fields for meaningful, socially relevant activities can open up for them, in which they might be able to start an exchange between the generations, nations and cultures.

The project led to an increased awareness of the need for continuing education of older people in their countries. 308 older people (50+ took part in the pilot activities in the three countries). Subsequent similar education activities based on the pilot took place in the participating organisations (Belgrade, Sofia), new research focus was introduced at the participating institution (Geragogy group at University of Craiova) and close relations with NGO with sustainable actions and focus on learning in later life were established (University Rousse).


All project partners publicised the pilot project and its activities via various media actions – mainly press announcements, press conference (Rousse), articles in newspapers and magazines (Sofia, Rousse and Craiova), radio and TV (Belgrade), posters and handouts (all partners). They published numerous brochures and two books (Rousse and Craiova). The project was presented at various relevant conferences and events.

Key elements of success:

The concepts were individually adapted to the circumstances of each partner, implemented and evaluated, in order to develop sustainable concepts and educational praxis.

At the start, concepts and good practice of scientific further education for older people in Europe, as preparation for new tasks in society, science, economy and culture, were introduced. The concept for the academy day was developed by project tandems (each university co-operated with an NGO) who was familiar with the potential learner target group and had access to it. The concept was implemented and evaluated. SWOT analysis was carried out to serve as a basis for strategy development for the implementation of similar education events in the future.

The partner tandems were supported in this process by the consultant team of ZAWiW of Ulm University and through an exchange with their colleagues from the other partner tandems (in two personal project meetings, via mailing lists, exchanges over video conferencing). The needs and demands of the partners’ organisations and learners were researched and implementation models discussed. At the end, the experiences were evaluated and documented. They serve as basis for future work on location, but also for the multiplication of academic continuing education programs on other locations.

Basic requirement for the institutions participating in the pilot project was the establishment of a project tandem between a university and an NGO. Thereby, not only the science-oriented contents and the reflexion of the methodological processes were secured (by the universities), but also the access and proximity to the target group, their needs and interests (through NGOs like pensioners associations, cultural institutes, etc.).