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While education is expected to play a significant role in responding to global social challenges, sustainable development discourses often fail to attend to issues of pedagogy, purpose and process. In this paper, we argue that one way to focus arguments on educational practice is through considerations of the relationship between education as justice and education for justice. We do this through discussing one form of justice in education – epistemic justice – and developing our conceptualisation of an epistemic core. Drawing on Elmore’s instructional core, this includes openness to students’ experiences and the place where they live, rich pedagogies and a broad range of epistemic resources. We argue that this is one way that secondary education’s contribution to sustainable and just futures could be made more concretely possible.

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Understanding how today’s children will act in the future is essential to education supporting sustainable development. This study investigated how students in three contexts in Nepal, Peru and Uganda understand environmental, epistemic and transitional justice. It used a tablet-based app to present students with scenarios that illustrates different attitudes, experiences and intended actions with respect to these three forms of justice and analysed responses to focus on factors related to intended actions. The analysis suggests that both attitudes and experiences are important in shaping intended actions in the future. Thus, education systems should not only develop attitudes to support sustainable development, but also exemplify and embody socially justice practices, providing students with experience of social contexts that support sustainable development.

Open access

Through a project undertaken under a programme funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) called Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF), alternative learning approaches associated with the introduction of a form of vertical farming called ‘tower gardens’ at primary schools were explored. Methods that were new to the local education context were used to support the learning process, for example role-playing sketches that allowed learners to share their own knowledge about gardening activities with their peers, teachers and staff from the non-governmental organisation that facilitated the process. This collective sharing and recall were key elements of the social learning process, building into individual and group knowledge. Corroborated memory recall contributed to group learning and also built into the collective storage of knowledge. Learning was firmly embedded in social interaction, in collective symbolism and arts – music specifically. These forms of learning and storing of knowledge resonated with the learners as it was a continuation of life as they know it in their community. It became clear from the project that educators saw the value of introducing concepts from classroom subjects when constructing and managing the tower gardens and were pleasantly surprised by the responses of the learners to this new way of learning, suggesting that creating scope within the curriculum and schoolwork plan is necessary in tandem with building the required capacity to replicate this without external support.

Open access

This paper offers a novel analysis of how Nepal is delivering its commitment to secondary education provision that is advancing environmental sustainability, tracing a trajectory that begins with national policies relating to environmental sustainability and incorporating the national curriculum framework, textbooks, pedagogies used in classrooms, and learner experiences and anticipated actions. We consider Nepal’s education about and for environmental sustainability in the context of theories of environmental justice, and question if and how secondary provision might promote the behavioural change that Nepal recognises is vital for environmental sustainability. Qualitative data were generated through policy analysis, critical content analysis of secondary-level curriculum and textbooks, classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with 15 teachers and 4 headteachers, and a range of in-person activities with 24 students in purposively selected four community secondary schools in the three diverse locations across Nepal. The results illuminate pronounced disconnections across modalities that indicate incoherence and unresolved debates in the underlying narrative of what environmental sustainability is and the role of education in addressing it. Our findings suggest that learners’ ideas, opinions, thinking and experiences should be encouraged and celebrated in the classroom to aid learners in translating conceptual learning into practical, sustainable behaviours, as well as to contribute to environmental justice. The findings appeal to the concerned stakeholders for their consideration of future policy and programme development that promotes environmental justice through education and establishes a connection between classroom learning and students’ lived experiences through a participatory approach, collaboration, and critical and creative thinking.

Open access

Education is often posed as the harbinger of progress in discourses related to the development of marginalised Indigenous communities. However, since they entered the mainstream schools in the 1960s, the four Indigenous communities of Gudalur, India have experienced various forms of injustice in seeking formal education. This article draws from the work of the Vishwa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust, a community-driven organisation that has been working on matters related to the education of these four communities since 1996, and two research initiatives that captures the community’s voices on their experiences and aspirations related to education, to put forth recommendations for practice that is geared towards greater equality and justice for the children of Indigenous communities. Rooted in the belief that the active participation of the community is crucial to devising solutions that truly address in a sustainable manner the historical injustices faced by them, the article outlines various interventions at different sites of learning that builds community ownership and nurtures a meaningful continuum between the home and school environment of the children.

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This paper explores how Ugandan secondary school learners experience schooling in English-medium schools where the use of English only is strictly enforced. We conceptualise the ways that the learners sit at the intersection of direct, systemic and cultural violence that in turn impacts their educational experiences. We particularly focus on instances of direct violence through corporal punishment, and the ways that such violence, and associated fear, are part of many learners’ everyday schooling experiences. We demonstrate this through presentation of findings from thematic analysis of individual and focus group interviews with 64 learners at two public and two private secondary schools in the Amuru and Kitgum districts of Northern Uganda. Our conclusions advocate for greater attention to be paid to the ways that changes to enforced English-only policies could support more positive well-being and educational outcomes.

Open access

This paper draws on findings from the JustEd study to discuss the shallow pedagogies that have emerged in Peru in the context of learner-centred and outcomes-based reforms that have been poorly implemented in a context with many limitations in terms of policy orientations, resources, and teacher training and support. These pedagogies promote little to no critical thinking, are disconnected from students’ experiences and do not encourage them to problematise reality nor to grasp complexity. Such pedagogies constitute a form of epistemic injustice in that they do not help to develop students’ capacity to participate as equals in the consumption and production of knowledge. Through this, these pedagogies also limit education’s potential contributions to justice, peace and sustainability. Our discussion of shallow pedagogies leads us to articulate some more positive elements of what rich and just pedagogies might entail.

Open access

This piece elaborates on a ‘new way of thinking’ (Einstein, 1946) that would contribute to overcoming the challenge of climate change and its impacts. This ‘new way’ will have us go beyond using facts and figures alone to persuade and cajole. It will have us stretching our moral imagination (Johnson, 2016) and empathising with people very different from ourselves. It will have us investing in processes of exchange which support the co-creation of knowledge and the future we want together.

Open access

In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.

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Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.

Open access