Comparative and International Education research aims:
- Facilitate the development of case-studies (also known as spokes), utilising critical and post-structural theoretical frameworks in the analysis of these cases, and the alternatives within them, across temporal and multi-scalar levels.
- Explore case-studies at multiple levels of analysis, including analyses of policy as articulated and promoted by government, transnational agencies, Aid agencies, NGOs, and social movements.
- Challenge established dichotomies and associated non-productive debates (e.g. structure / agency; global / local; determinism / free will; reform / revolution) in educational policy formulation and analyses, in favor of more nuanced (temporal and locational) and comprehensive studies.
- Elaborate critical readings of dominant educational policies, drawing on and through subordinate understandings, policies and practices, to demonstrate how these present viable alternatives for contemporary contexts.
- Promote interventionist or engaged academic work under contemporary conditions – impacting on policy debate, formulation and implementation and promoting social transformation.
Multiple worlds in a preschool: Children's place making in a globalising world
- Researcher(s): Dr Zsuzsa Millei (CIEGUN) in collaboration with children at Kurri Kurri Preschool, Jannelle Gallagher Director of Kurri Kurri Preschool and Sandii Walker Artist.
- Funding: School of Education, University of Newcastle (2013) Jean Denton Memorial Scholarship (2014 to 2015).
- Year(s): 2013 to 2015
Education in/for the capitalist world-system in transition
- Researcher(s): Tom Griffiths
This project examines policy from historical and current contexts across the capitalist world-economy, that seek to develop and advance overt socialist political projects, and to direct education to support such projects. It explores the nature, content and practice of these educational initiatives in terms of their potential contribution to wider anti-systemic social movements that are challenging the logic of capitalism. The research agenda is based on world-systems analysis (WSA) as a framework for understanding socialist education historically, and in contemporary times. In times of systems crisis, WSA highlights the potential for education to contribute to an understanding of contemporary crises, the articulation of alternatives to the capitalist world-system, and political actions to move towards such futures. This work includes compiling empirical data examining the secular trends of the world-economy and how they are experienced in different locations, coupled with investigation of challenges to established educational policy in these contexts through a WSA lens. It also elaborates a case for the inclusion of WSA within the field of critical education/pedagogy.
Child politics: Nation, place-making and subjectivity
- Researcher(s): Zsuzsa Millei
Historically, national governments' interest in children has always been about a nation's future: "investments in future parenthood, economic competitiveness, and a stable democratic order" (Hendrick, 1997, p. 46). When the future is debated, childhood stands in the crosscurrent of various competing cultural and political projects, such as improving the moral fabric of society or preserving a coherent national community. The ways in which we understand spaces of childhood and nation and their intersections of national childhoods, shape how we understand our own childhood (memories of belonging to a nation), children's worlds (as a/political agents and citizens of a nation and / or globe) and children's lives. Despite these notions' defining characteristics to our identities and civic participation, we know little about the premises upon which children's sense of belonging to a national community is constructed and how children come to assume and inhabit national identities. Our globalising world also poses several challenges for understanding nation and childhood, since nation-centred analysis of policies, provisions, constructions and experiences of childhood arguably no longer stand. Family, community or nation-bound notions of 'childhood' are also being increasingly challenged by processes of globalisation and mobility. Many children today are global travellers and in connection with people and things from different places often far from home and through the media and technology. This context necessitates new imaginations, theoretical arguments and empirical investigations.
From naming to claiming: Subaltern struggles for the Right to Education
- Researcher(s): Nisha Thapliyal
This research project examines competing discourses of education rights in India and Brazil using feminist, critical, and post-colonial conceptualizations of the relationship between social movements for education and the state in deeply stratified, capitalist societies (Mohanty 1984; Alvarez, Dagnino & Escobar 1990). In this conceptual framework, education as well as rights-based approaches to development, is understood to be contested and contradictory terrain wherein exists the potential to reproduce or challenge and transform extant social hierarchies. Research methodologies employed in this project are shaped by feminist and critical scholarship about policy analysis and social movement research; specifically methodologies shaped by critical ethnography and participatory action research (Kincheloe & McLaren, 1994).
First, speak no harm: Improving education aid effectiveness by rethinking policy language
- Researcher(s): Stephanie Bengtsson
This research project is particularly interested in the "aid-ophone" community, whose members have formed inter-agency groups around and as a result of international agreements and goals, and who thus share a certain vocabulary and discourse related to humanitarian assistance and development (Bengtsson, 2011). It builds on the premise that language has "constitutive power", and that, as such, the humanitarian imperative to 'first, do no harm' is impossible for aid professionals to follow unless they first speak no harm (Mehan, 1997, p.250). Inherent to this project is the recognition "that knowledge is socially constructed and shaped by relations of power" and thus looks at a community that has more control over the "knowledge" around aid than those who are actually meant to benefit from the aid interventions (Vavrus & Seghers, 2010, p.77). Exploring what is traditionally seen as a homogeneous elite level in this way has been termed "studying up" by Nader (2002, p.284). This project will contribute to the scholarship on critical discourse analysis within comparative education, and is motivated by the hitherto untapped potential for linguistic change to bring about meaningful shifts in aid practice.
Knowledge exchange for pedagogical and community change
- Researcher(s): Linda Newman
Newman's research project explores how through re-envisioning pedagogical leadership and by creating enabling learning environments, teachers, parents, children and communities re-interpret, enact and resist educational policies in Chile, Australia and South Africa. Newman's interest is in the challenges to policy provided by participants acting at ground-level (Freire, 1992) and the relationships between policy and practice. The theoretical foundations of her work lie in socio-cultural theories (Vygotsky, 1978; Woodrow & Newman, 2011) and is underpinned by the explicit goal of re-positioning adults and children as active agents in learning encounters where learning is co-constructed within social, cultural and historical contexts (UWS, 2011). Methods currently in use and informed by these theoretical approaches include Participatory Action Research (Furlong & Oancea, 2005), visual methods such as photovoice (Pink, 2001), and ecologically informed environmental (early childhood literacy environment) rating scales.
The changing face of academic work
- Researcher(s): Eva Petersen
In neoliberalising societies across the globe universities have undergone and are undergoing some far-reaching changes, which have significant impact on the conditions for and the enactment of academic work, and for academic subjectification. It remains significant to map the lived experiences of these processes and critically assess their effects.