Uwe Hoßfeld (left) and Karl Porges with one of the publications on the Jena Declaration.

Against racism

Biology didactics expert honoured with the Thuringian Democracy Award 2024
Uwe Hoßfeld (left) and Karl Porges with one of the publications on the Jena Declaration.
Image: Enrico Sobetzko
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Published: | By: Axel Burchardt
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On 23 May, biology didactics apl. Prof. Dr Uwe Hoßfeld and Dr Karl Porges from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena were awarded the 10th Thuringian Democracy Prize in the category Recognition Prize in Erfurt. The prize was presented by the Minister for Education, Youth and Sports, Helmut Holter. Both academics have been researching and teaching for many years on issues such as xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Hoßfeld is one of the co-initiators of the Jena Declaration against Racism and both have shown extraordinary commitment to publicising this declaration, which recognises that the concept of race is the result of racism and not its requirement.

"The award is both an incentive and an obligation for us to intensify our efforts to implement scientific criticism of racism in schools and institutions of higher education as well as in teacher training and to make it accessible to the public," said Porges after the award ceremony. The Jena biology didactics scientists are the first scientists to receive the prize, which has been awarded since 2013 and recognises the commitment of people who have shown great personal dedication to an open-minded and diverse society.

The Jena Declaration

Immediately after the publication of the "Jena Declaration" on 10 September 2019, the scientists began to present the findings of the Jena Declaration to a broad public nationwide. Initially, the focus was on political education and democracy education. In the following years, Hoßfeld and Porges organised numerous training courses for teachers, childcare workers, educational assistants, managers, students and the interested public, among others. "Precisely because 'race' is a social construct," is how Prof. Uwe Hoßfeld describes the guiding principle, "a deep examination of it is always necessary within education." "We are therefore endeavouring to derive the right conclusions from the historical analyses for a forward-looking design of lessons and teaching materials, curricula, etc.," adds Dr Porges. The researchers have also produced a comprehensive pool of material for (high) school teachers, which was developed in collaboration with partners such as the State Centre for Political Education and the Thuringian Ministry of Education. Dr Porges is also in charge of the "Eloquent Silence" project, which deals with Nazi eugenics crimes and their consequences, the results of which will be presented at a symposium on 30 November 2024 at the Institute of Zoology and Evolutionary Research at the University of Jena.

Appropriately addressing socially relevant topics

"Our aim is to properly address socially relevant topics that are currently being taken up and polemically distorted by currents that threaten democracy and to proactively implement the findings in all three phases of teacher training in Thuringia," says Karl Porges. "In addition to educational work that is critical of racism, this includes in particular dealing with fake news, health education, inclusion and the topic of sexual diversity," emphasises Uwe Hoßfeld.

And as is usual for academics, students are also involved in this topic, for example by addressing and working on innovative, socially relevant topics in their final year projects and participating in research activities. "In this way, students and teaching staff work together to actively shape and strengthen the democracy of tomorrow during their studies," summarises Karl Porges.

The Thuringian Democracy Award

Since 2013, the Thuringian Democracy Award has honoured the commitment of people who make a great personal effort to promote an open-minded and diverse society. The award recognises associations, networks, initiatives and individuals who have made exemplary efforts in their region to promote diversity and democratic participation, combat anti-Semitism and racism and promote non-discriminatory coexistence in educational institutions, at work and during leisure time.


Further information (selection/only in german): 
Beredtes Schweigen. NS-Eugenikverbrechen und ihre Folgen. LinkExternal link

Porges, K. (Hrsg.) (2023): Den Begriff „Rasse“ überwinden. Die „Jenaer Erklärung“ in der (Hoch-)Schulbildung. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt. LinkExternal link 
Porges, K., Hoßfeld, U. (2023): Die „Jenaer Erklärung gegen Rassismus“ und ihre Anwendung im Unterricht. TMBJS: Erfurt. Link External link
Porges, K., Menzel, B., Bachmann, S. (2024) (Hrsg.): Gelebte Demokratie in Schule und Lehrkräftebildung. Grundlagen, Praxisberichte, Rahmenbedingungen. Weinheim: Beltz. LinkExternal link
Porges, K., Porges, C., Kirlak, E., Hoßfeld, U. (2024): Bioethische Fragestellungen im Unterricht – eugenische „Maßnahmen“ damals und heute. MINT-Zirkel 13 (1): 8–9. LinkExternal link
Porges, K., Vogel, C., Hejnol, A. und Hoßfeld, U. (2023): Biologiegeschichte trifft Biologieunterricht. Ein Beispiel für interdisziplinäre rassismuskritische Bildungsarbeit. Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology. LinkExternal link


Uwe Hoßfeld, apl. Prof. Dr
Didactics of Biology
Uwe Hoßfeld
Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)
Stoy´sches Haus/Institutsgebäude/Bienenhaus, Room 103
Am Steiger 3
07743 Jena Google Maps site planExternal link
Karl Porges, Dr
Didactics of Biology
Stoy´sches Haus/Institutsgebäude/Bienenhaus, Room 104
Am Steiger 3
07743 Jena Google Maps site planExternal link