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About ICCS

Introduction to the ICCS

The overall objective of the ICCS project is to identify and compare the way in which schools prepare pupils for life in a democratic society – and how this may be developing and changing in a globalised world.

This is done primarily by studying the attitudes of young people to social and political questions; their knowledge of democracy, politics and society; and their perceptions of themselves as citizens in society. The project also includes teachers and headteachers with a view to determining how various school systems approach this aspect of their activities.

The project is based on the general assumption that both old and new conflicts between various ideals about what constitutes a good, democratic citizen will gain increasing importance in the 21st century, when finding the balance between the individual and the collective, between the national and the global is a major challenge. Here are some examples of the international phenomena that may influence the political education of young people: challenges related to handling the internet, global climate changes, immigration, multiculturalism, international terrorism and the expansion of the EU.

For better or worse, these phenomena and tendencies will be an educational challenge to schools as they prepare pupils for their lives as democratic citizens. In other words, the project will try to identify the impact of globalisation and other contemporary phenomena on the everyday lives and school experiences of young people, and how this is approached as a challenge to the entire school.

The project includes a range of ongoing international and national activities. The most important international activity so far is the large international study of 8th-grade pupils in 2009.

The Danish results of the study were extremely striking in a number of ways. For instance, it turned out that the Danish pupils were among the most favourably inclined with regard to using the classroom as the framework for democratic debate – as well as being among the most able in terms of answering questions about democracy, politics and society. 

At the moment (autumn 2015) the ICCS is inviting countries and schools to take part in a new international and comparative study of 8th-grade pupils, which is to take place in the spring of 2016 (ICCS 2016).

The ICCS is carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The IEA is an umbrella organisation for educational research environments all over the world, and is known for carrying out wide-ranging international projects of high research quality.

Denmark has taken part previously in several other IEA studies, focusing for instance on reading, mathematics and IT in schools. The ICCS is carried out by the Danish School of Education at Aarhus University (at the Emdrup Campus in Copenhagen). As a general title for the various ICCS studies (which are expected to continue in the decades to come) and associated activities, the Danish School of Education will also use the project name “Political education in the 21st century”.


Each country will fund its own research in the ICCS. In Denmark the project is funded jointly by Aarhus University and the Danish Ministry of Education. European countries in the ICCS (2009 and 2016) will receive support from a directorate under the EU Commission to cover some of the costs of the participating countries in connection with international collaboration in the IEA.