Bildung project contributes to innovation of the European adult education sector by adopting the holistic concept of ‘Bildung’ and exploring its political and practical potential for adult learning and education.

The multiple challenges and rapid changes in our societies in Europe demand us to rethink the role of education. While Lifelong Learning is widely accepted as the main concept, we have to rethink the role and concepts of Adult Learning and Education (ALE). This is essential if we want to equip citizens with the skills to make informed decisions and take transformative action in the world shaped by e.g. climate change, digitalisation and social divide.

The Bildung project contributes to this re-thinking by making use of the concept of “Bildung” for conceptualising ALE. The concept, rooted in the tradition of the enlightenment and the Nordic Folkbildning envisages an education, targeting all aspects of development of individuals, communities and societies, including e.g. ethical, emotional and scientific dimensions in a holistic manner.

Eleven partners from all over Europe will explore the use this concept for the ALE sector in the fields of digitalisation, sustainability, democracy and basic skills education.

Aim and objectives

BILDUNG will offer decision makers and ALE providers on the European and national level with:

  • A conceptual framework and recommendation on how to widen ALE services and structures using the Bildung lens
  • Good practices of projects from various regions in Europe already using the Bildung/Folkbildning approach
  • Real and virtual spaces for exchange and peer learning


The project will have several outputs:


We will organise the following events:

  • Four webinars on the use of the Bildung-concept for developing ALE activities on digital learning, democracy, sustainability and basic learning
  • Two Multiplier Events:
    • For practitioners on how to use the concept
    • For policy makers and ALE networks on how to use the Bildung concept for improving ALE systems


The project is running from December 2020 until May 2023. In 2021, we are planning to finish the following project results:

  • A comprehensive context paper, illustrating the history of Bildung and bringing together Bildung with European concepts and frameworks
  • The two best practice guidelines:
    • for democracy learning and promoting democratic values in Europe and
    • promoting digital skills and use of new technologies in adult learning.

We will be meeting twice during that time period in order to work on and further discuss the project outcomes. The partner meetings are organised in Germany and Ireland.

During the second half of the project we will be working on the two best practice guidelines:

  • Bildung in adult learning for promoting sustainability and
  • Bildung for Basic Education.

Based on these results we will create the roadmap, as well as the educational video explaining the concept. During the second half of the project there will be two partner meetings.

What is Bildung?

The first output of Bildung project is a comprehensive paper explaining the concept of Bildung and how it can be used in adult learning and education sector.

There are many definitions of Bildung existing. The definition of the European Bildung Network is the following:

Bildung is the combination of the education and knowledge necessary to thrive in your society, and the moral and emotional maturity to both be a team player and have personal autonomy. Bildung is also knowing your roots and being able to imagine the future.

The Bildung concept paper has been written by Lene Rachel Andersen. It illustrates the history of Bildung and brings together Bildung with European concepts and frameworks.

What is Bildung – and how does it relate to ALE?















A five-page summary of “What is Bildung?”

The Bildung project consortium will translate the concept paper in several languages. So far, the following versions are completed:







The Bildung project is a collaboration of 11 european organisation dedicated to support adult education and learning.

Introduction of the Bildung-project partners:


  • DVV International is the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV), which represents the interests of approximately 900 adult education centres (vhs). DVV International cooperates with more than 200 partners in more than 30 African, Asian, Latin American and European countries.


  • The European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) is a European NGO with 124 member organisations in 43 countries, is the advocate for non-formal education in Europe. Founded in 1953, it supports the interest of more than 60 million learners.
  • The Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres (Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen, VÖV), as an umbrella organisation of the 256 Austrian Adult Education Centres, coordinates all educational policy and pedagogics related activities and supports its member organisations, the regional associations’ interests.
  • Being an umbrella organisation for 14 non-formal adult educational schools, The Association of Estonian Folk High Schools supports not only the development of its members but also with the image of folk high schools and the advocacy for liberal adult education in general.
  • AONTAS is the National Adult Learning Organisation in Ireland. They represent over 500 members in Ireland as an advocacy non-government organisation. AONTAS’ mission is to advocate for the right of all adults in Ireland to quality learning throughout their lives and to promote the value and benefits of lifelong learning.
  • Based in Patras, DafniKEK is an Adult Education Center with the mission to support the engagement of the less advantaged towards learning opportunities in line with the latest educational and technological approaches
  • The Danish Adult Education Association (DAEA) supports Danish citizens’ co-responsibility and their active involvement in the development of society, aspiring to support their knowledge of rights and duties in the democracy they are living in.
  • Founded in 1874, The Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation (Kvs) is a Helsinki-based independent think tank on everyday learning focusing on future-oriented projects as well as open-access publications. Kvs‘s core expertise is in the fields of learning, innovations, and communication.
  • The Catalan Association for Education, Training and Research (ACEFIR) organisation furthering social initiatives through its work in education, training and research for learners of all age groups.
  • As an education center PRO DIDACTICA is enabling individuals and organisations to learn and develop personally as well as professional training and consulting programmes and thus supporting an open society in transition.
  • Working between the three language regions, the umbrella organisation The Swiss Federation for Adult Learning (SVEB), represents all national education centres and interest groups and supporting their interest within the public discourse of AEL. SVEB is also active in professionalisation, research and development and runs a think tank