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 has published several outputs:


We have organised 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 event took place in Vienna 22 March 2023 and it was called: What is Bildung? A new Bildung agenda for Europe!


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 Bildung project uses the following definition:

Bildung is an individual maturing process connecting education, upbringing, knowledge, culture, and personal responsibilities towards humans and our globe.

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?

Download the full publication: What is Bildung? (pdf, English version)

Read our news article on the publication: The power of Bildung

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

The Bildung project consortium has translated the summary in several languages:






Reflections on Bildung

What is Bildung and why do we need it? Bildung project is publishing a series of reflections on what Bildung means to our partners.

A man holding Bildung sign and text: Around Europe, adult educators are facing the challenge to better support citizens in mastering the major changes in their life, their work and the society as a whole. The idea of Bildung can inspire us to master these changes." Uwe, DVV International, partner of BildungALE project

A woman holding Bildung sign on the street. “To me, Bildung is a process starting from personal learning and development and continuing towards sharing of knowledge and experience until it makes a difference in society.” Sabin, SVEB

Woman holding Bildung sign in library and text: "To me, Bildung is a development approach that contributes to sustainable education for all. Bildung has a positive impact on our personal and professional life, family, community and society." Viorica, Pro Didactica, Republic of Moldova

Woman holding Bildung sign outdoors and text: "Bildung helps us to connect to what is essential in life and reflect on our attitudes towards others and the planet we live on. We need Bildung to cultivate sustainable and wholesome bonds with the rest of the world." Anna, Acefir, Spain

A man holding Bildung sign and text:“To me, Bildung means learning new things that make me think and reflect critically on my views. It also means fostering communication with others and widening my horizon in terms of changing my attitudes and behaviour.”

A woman holding Bildung sign and text: "For me, Bildung means constantly changing set of knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and understandings. It is growth of the mind and soul.“ Tiina, AFHSE, Estonia

Bildung for me is a chance to reimagine the way we perceive the outlets and the importance of adult education, in our political, sentimental and practical aspects of life."

A woman holding Bildung sign and text: "For me, Bildung is a never-ending search for what is good, true and beautiful in this world. And living accordingly. We need to learn together to take care of each other and our planet better."

A man holding Bildung sign and text: For me, Bildung is a human right. But it is also often – unfortunately – a rare good. It is not equally accessible to all and is sometimes really expensive. That should be changed.

A woman holding a Bildung-sign and text:""For me, Bildung is a concept that allows everybody to learn whatever they want, about any topic they like or any skill they want to master. It frees education from being a tool and allows for it to become a means in itself.

A woman holding a Bildung-sign and text:"For me, Bildung is an ability to reflect your own life and make sure it corresponds with your core values. Having Bildung means that a person has an ability to reflect and go upstream against a mainstream."

Democracy and Bildung

The second output of the project, “Democracy and Bildung -paper examines the interlinkages of the said concepts.

“Democracy is not a given and depends on people claiming it. It is something that must be learned over and over again.”

Democracy and Bildung paper discusses the various contexts of democratic Bildung: historical, European as well adult learning and education context. It also provides concrete recommendations for activities on macro, meso and micro levels and advocacy concerning the future of adult education and Bildung.

Democracy and Bildung, Bildung logo in brain shape

The paper has been produced by

  • Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres (Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen, VÖV)
  • DAFNI KEK Adult Education and Research Centre

Read our news article on the publication: Rethinking democratic education

Summaries of the paper

Overview of democracy and Bildung

Democracy and Bildung have strong historical interlinkages that are essential to understand and study. The overview “Democracy and Bildung” presents the interrelation between democracy and Bildung in a matrix as it doesn’t follow a linear process of succession but is constantly evolving.

Open the Democracy and Bildung overview (pdf)

Let us know what you think!

Contribute to our Answergarden wordcloud and share your actions and visions on how to promote democratic Bildung! -> Go to Answergarden

An infographic describing the relations between democracy and Bildung

Digitalisation and Bildung

The third output of the project, a paper on “Digitalisation and Bildung” is now out.

Digital transformation is shaping more and more areas of life in our modern society, resulting in both opportunities and challenges.  The publication “Digitalisation and Bildung” aims to embed the broad topic of digital transformation with all its processes of social change into the concept of Bildung. It also illustrates this linkage with good examples and gives recommendations for broad implementation.

Digitalisation and Bildung publication (pdf)

The paper has been produced by

  • Eesti Rahvaülikoolide Liit
  • DVV International
  • SVEB

Read our news article on the publication: Digitalisation and Bildung – 21st century challenge

Summaries of the paper

Digitalització i Bildung (CAT)

Digitalisierung und Bildung (DE)

Digitalisering og Bildung (DK)

Digitaliseerimine ja Bildung (EE)

Digitalisation and Bildung (EN)

Digitalisaatio ja Bildung (FI)

Ψηφιοποίηση και Bildung (GR)

Digitalitzación y Bildung (SP) 

डिजिटाइजेशन और बिल्डुंग (HI)


Sustainability and Bildung

The fourth output of the Bildung project, Sustainability and Bildung, reflects the Bildung concept in relation to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) claims that a transformation of policies, systems, and contents of education is needed. While focusing on these aspects, ESD acknowledges as well that the development of new cultures of learning and teaching is essential. This is the place where Bildung comes in. The objective of the Sustainability and Bildung report is to use the concepts developed mainly by Lene Rachel Andersen in her reflection on Bildung and Folkbildning to enrich the debate and practice in ESD.

Sustainability and Bildung (pdf)

Read our news article on the publication: Empowering people to become agents of change through Bildung

Summaries of the paper

Sostenibilitat i Bildung (CAT)

Sostenibilidad y Bildung (ES)

Bæredygtighed og Bildung (DK)

Kestlik areng ja Bildung (EE)

Sustainability and Bildung (EN)

Kestävä kehitys ja Bildung (FI)

Αειφορία και εκπαίδευση (GR)

Duurzaamheid en Bildung (NL)

Sustenabilitate și Bildung (RO)

शाश्वतता और बिल्डुंग (HI)

Nachhaltigkeit und Bildung (DE)



Basic skills and Bildung

The fifth publication of the Bildung project discusses Bildung and its connections to basic skills learning.

Adequate basic skills enable inclusion and participation in the complex and rapidly changing information society. In our complex world, we are required to be multi-literate and media-critical. We also need critical thinking more than ever. Besides these crucial skills connected to (digital) information processing, we also increasingly need different numeracy skills in our daily lives. We also need to have self-efficacy and the ability to make right decisions at the right time.

Basic skills and Bildung publication examines the theoretical background of basic skills learning and suggests a more holistic approach to learning basic skills, connecting Bildung approach to the Life Skills Framework developed by the Life Skills for Europe project.

Basic skills and Bildung (pdf)

Read our news article on the publication: Broader purposed, holistic learning is needed now more than ever 

Summaries of the paper

Basic skills and Bildung (EN)

Habilitats bàsiques i Bildung (CAT)

Põhioskused ja Bildung (EE)

Βασικές δεξιότητες και Bildung (EL)

Grundbildung und Bildung (DE)

Grundlæggende færdigheder og Bildung (DK)

Perustaidot ja Bildung (FI)

Abilitățile de bază și Bildung (RO)

बुनियादी कौशल और बिल्डुंग (HI)



Bildung roadmap

The Bildung roadmap presents recommendations and guidelines developed within the Bildung project. 

The Bildung roadmap guides adult education stakeholders in creating inclusive adult learning and education systems throughout Europe. The roadmap includes both theoretical insights and practical recommendations to enhance adult education practices.

Download the full text version of Bildung Roadmap (pdf)

Click the numbers on our interactive map to read more about the recommendations!

Watch our animation explaining the concept of Bildung on Youtube


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