Staff Profile


Career Summary


Dr Stephanie Bengtsson is a Lecturer in Education at the University of Newcastle in Australia, where she commenced her appointment in January 2012. She holds a Doctorate in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University, an MPhil in Inclusive Education from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) in English Literature from Harvard. A Swedish citizen, born in Germany, and raised in Zimbabwe, with university degrees from institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom, she naturally has an interest in all things international, but particularly humanitarian aid and development assistance, the relationship between global and local forces in educational settings, understanding educational discourse, and the Education for All (EFA) agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa. She likes to refer to herself as an "academic practitioner" (a term used by the comparativist Dr David N. Wilson to describe those active in the fields of comparative and international education): in addition to her academic work, she has been involved in a number of projects with UNICEF and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). She is excited to be experiencing yet another continent, as the lifelong learning continues!


  • Doctor of Education, Columbia University - New York - USA, 18/05/2011
  • Master of Philosophy, University of Cambridge - UK, 10/11/2007
  • Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University, 09/06/2005


Research keywords

  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Education and Development
  • Education in Emergencies
  • Fragile States and Fragility
  • International Aid Policy

Research expertise

Stephanie's research is situated within the field of international education and development. It focuses on challenging traditional binaries such as “first world”/”third world”, and explores how to break down boundaries between academics/researchers and practitioners in the field of education, conflict, fragility and development, both at the international policy level and “on-the-ground”, with teachers, schools and communities themselves.

She completed her doctoral dissertation (entitled "Fragile States and Fragility in Global Education Aid Policy: A Critical Analysis of the Discourse") in May 2011, and has published an additional article on this research in the Oxford Studies in Comparative Education. In April 2013, the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at Sciences Po and UNESCO in Paris, France, hosted an international symposium on “Education, Fragility & Conflict”, with logistical assistance from the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Working Group on Education and Fragility and supported by a grant awarded to Stephanie by the University of Newcastle Australia. The symposium, which was coordinated by Stephanie, in collaboration with Dr Sarah Dryden-Peterson, a faculty member at Harvard University and the co-chair of the INEE Working Group, and Ms Michelle Reddy, an assistant dean at PSIA, brought together academic research and practice in the area of education, fragility, and conflict, and provided a platform for critical engagement, reciprocal learning, the exchange of ideas and knowledge-building in this crucial subfield of educational development. Currently, Stephanie is working on a research and teacher training project involving a rural school in Zimbabwe, together with Dr Jo Ailwood. Her work in Zimbabwe is centred on school community development, and examines how local expertise and capacity can be harnessed to overcome the many challenges facing the Zimbabwean education system today.

In addition to her academic research, Stephanie has participated in a number of research-oriented projects with development organisations. From 2007 to 2010, she worked as a lead researcher for a mixed methods study for UNICEF's Learning Plus Initiative in Africa, aimed at improving essential service provision through schools. For this project, Stephanie played a central role in developing a range of research methods and designing an index to improve inclusiveness, participation, and gender equity in education policy and practice. She also helped prepare training materials and co-facilitated a participatory training workshop in Rwanda for researchers, UNICEF country officers, and government officials from five different African countries, and co-conducted data analysis workshops for researchers from Lesotho and Swaziland on location in Lesotho. From 2008 to 2010, Stephanie chaired the Teachers College team that was hired by INEE along with a team from the University of Oxford to develop a Strategic Research Agenda for the field of education in emergencies, chronic crises, early recovery, and fragile contexts.

Stephanie is a member of and chief investigator for the Comparative and International Education Group at the University of Newcastle (CIEGUN) and a consulting editor for UNESCO's International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning.


  • English
  • German
  • Swedish

Fields of Research

130302Comparative And Cross-Cultural Education40
160506Education Policy35
200103International And Development Communication25


Administrative expertise

Stephanie started working at the University of Newcastle in January 2012. She brings with her a wealth of administration expertise, gained while she was pursuing her doctorate in New York City and working part-time, both for the university and on international consulting projects. At Teachers College, Columbia University, she worked as a Peer Advisor in the Comparative and International Education Programmes, advising graduate students on issues related to their academic and professional growth, and providing administrative support to programme faculty. Prior to this, she served as the Coordinator for the Center for African Education (a Centre which was established to promote research and teaching about education, broadly defined, in Africa and the African Diaspora). Her duties included organising workshops, panel discussions, focus groups, and other events, and disseminating information of relevance to and advising students, staff, and others with an interest in Africa. She also worked on grant applications, managed existing funds, and reported to grantors on the use of funds. She was especially proud to be able to help finalise the Centre’s accreditation by New York State to award a certificate in African studies. Outside of academia, she was the chair of a small consulting group that was working on developing a strategic research agenda for the field of education in emergencies, chronic crises, recovery, and fragile contexts. She has also worked as a programme assistant for the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). This year, she serves as the Students and Staff Talking About Research (SSTAR) coordinator and arranges research seminars, writing groups, tutorials and semi-annual conferences at the School of Education. She is a member of the Board of Directors for a non-governmental organisation called Tariro: Hope and Health for Zimbabwe's orphans.


Teaching keywords

  • Comparative and International Education
  • International Educational Development
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Sociology of Education

Teaching expertise

Stephanie loves to teach and has taught in a variety of educational settings. While she was pursuing her undergraduate degree, she worked as a head tutor for the Harvard Program for International Education, whose mission was to help students at Boston high schools to learn about and get engaged in international affairs. She also mentored children with special needs through a programme designed to bring children together for arts, crafts and gym activities in a welcoming inclusive environment on a weekly basis. More recently, Stephanie was a teaching assistant and peer advisor in the Comparative and International Education Programmes at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was frequently invited to give guest lectures on a wide range of topics. She recently completed work for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on revisions of a teaching manual on child protection and education for a Master's in Education in Emergencies programme. Stephanie has also co-facilitated a number of research design and data analysis workshops for a UNICEF project she was involved with.

Teaching responsibilities



For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Chapter (2 outputs)

2011Bengtsson SEL, 'Fragile States, Fragile Concepts: a critical reflection on the terminology of fragility in the field of education in emergencies', Education, Conflict and Development, Symposium Books Ltd, Oxford 33-58 (2011) [B1]
2011Bengtsson SEL, Bartlett L, 'From Child-Friendly Schools to Child-Friendly Research Methods: Lessons Learned on Child-Centred Research from UNICEF's Learning Plus Initiative', Educating Children in Conflict Zones: Research, Policy, and Practice for Systemic Change ¿ A Tribute to Jackie Kirk, Teachers College Press, New York 235-254 (2011) [B2]

Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)

2011Bengtsson SEL, Fragile States and Fragility in Global Education Aid Policy: A Critical Analysis of the Discourse, Teachers College Columbia University (2011) [T3]

Grants and Funding


Number of grants3
Total funding$12,500

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

2014 (2 grants)

Building Back Better$6,000
Funding Body: Global School Partners

Project Team
Doctor Stephanie Bengtsson, Doctor Joanne Ailwood
Project GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

CIES 2014 "Revisioning Education for All", Toronto Canada, 10-15 March 2014$1,500
Funding Body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Project Team
Doctor Stephanie Bengtsson
Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2012 (1 grants)

Education and Fragility in Global Aid Policy – International Symposium & Special Journal Issue$5,000
Funding Body: University of Newcastle

Project Team
Doctor Stephanie Bengtsson
New Staff GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions2
Total current UoN PhD EFTSL0.8

For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, the institution name is listed below the program name.

Current Supervision

ProgramSupervisor TypeResearch Title
20122016PhD (Education)Co-SupervisorAchieving Cultural Competence in English Communicative Teaching Classrooms in Vietnam: A Study From an Intercultural Communicative Competence Perspective
20122016PhD (Education)Co-SupervisorQuality Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Upper Secondary Schools in Hatinh Province in Vietnam

Dr Stephanie Bengtsson

Work Phone(02) 4921 6593
PositionConjoint Lecturer
School of Education
Faculty of Education and Arts
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Focus AreaEducation
Hunter Building,
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308