Background and history – University of Copenhagen

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Department of Science Education > About the Department > Background and history

Background and history 

The idea for the Centre of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen was first formulated in a proposal to the Faculty Committee from the Committee of Teaching Quality Improvement in autumn 2000. There was a dual background for this proposal: first, both within and outside the faculty there was a growing realisation of the need for strengthening and developing the faculty's teaching activities. Second, more knowledge was needed of the didactical and study-related sociological relationships of the faculty's teaching, and more broadly of third and other (high school) levels of science teaching.

From the beginning these two purposes were considered closely connected from the perspective that a focused effort to improve a complex practice requires systematic knowledge about the practice - thus, the knowledge was to be founded on research. 

The establishment of the Centre was commenced with the appointment by the Dean of a board of directors and an international advisory board. A council came later. Early on, a detailed set of objectives was formulated. Furthermore a centre leader, Kjeld Bagger Laursen, was appointed, who began staffing the Centre immediately.   

The focus on research meant that primarily research staff was hired. This turned out to be a slow process because, among other reasons, the field of research-based science didactics was underdeveloped in Denmark. The first few years were achieved through a number of non-permanent positions, and not until 2003 was the first permanent staff hired.

Naturally, the establishment phase included more than just filling positions. There were teaching projects directed at both students and various teacher groupings and development projects.  

The Centre was upgraded to a Department effective 1 February 2007 upon the approval of the Chancellor.