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Global education research in Finland Global education research in Finland

Global education research in Finland
Global education research in Finland
Elina Lehtomäki and Antti Rajala
Lehtomäki, E., & Rajala, A. (2020). Global Education Research in Finland. In D. Bourn
(Eds,), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning. Bloomsbury academic.
This chapter offers a review of global education research in Finland over ten years,
starting from 2007. The discussions on global education have involved a broad range of
partners from the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia. In
this review we aim to identify the contributions of the research on these discussions as well
as what gaps in knowledge have been identified. The main question addressed in this
chapter is: What key themes and findings characterize Finnish research in global education?
The roots of global education in Finland can be traced back to the 1970s, when
internationalisation was introduced in the nine-year comprehensive school curriculum. Over
decades there has been an evident public support to international cooperation and interest in
global issues yet in formal education the responsibility for implementing internationalisation
activities has been left for individual teachers. In 2004 the Global Education Network
Europe’s peer review on global education in Finland observed that some good initiatives that
have succeeded, for instance, in increasing awareness about development cooperation
could be scaled up only by longer strategic funding and clearer inter-ministerial commitment
to global education (GENE 2004). Furthermore, the report recommended development of a
strategy for global education that would include a strong Southern perspective and
representatives of migrants in Finland as an important resource. As a response to the peer
review report, Finnish Ministry of Education launched a national action program on
international education (Jääskeläinen 2016; Ministry of Education 2006).
Global education research in Finland
Jääskeläinen (2016) from the National Board of Education who was responsible for
coordinating the working group set to design the project for 2007-2009, emphasized how it
introduced a change in perspective, evident in the concepts used for defining future goals as
the proposal introduced the term ‘global education’ in the country:
The debate over the concept had been going on for some time. The change of concept
from international to global education points to the key issue: It is not enough anymore
that we focus in education (international education) on communication or cooperation
between different peoples. Each individual needs to be able to cooperate and
communicate with people coming from different backgrounds. International cooperation
is not enough; we need to learn to understand globalisation and its consequences, even
on the scale of the entire planet. The economy is globalising, cultures are merging and
becoming more uniform, mobility and communication are on the increase, and the
changes in the condition of the environment concern us all. We must learn to understand
these phenomena. (p. 107)
The project (2007-2009) covered the five dimensions of global education(
development, peace, human rights, inter-cultural and sustainability ) as defined in the
Maastricht Declaration and aimed to create a common understanding of global education
and its value basis. The final project report emphasized global education as a key to
“individual’s growth into global responsibility with the purpose of finding solutions to the
challenges and problems facing humanity collectively – in other words, educating the
individual to take responsibility for promoting good living and a sustainable future on a global
scale” (Lampinen & Melén-Paaso 2009, p. 7-8, 187). The project succeeded in engaging
education experts from different fields and their reports showed ways of integrating global
responsibility in a wide array of activities in both informal learning and formal education, from
early childhood education to physical education and sports, and youth work. The government
commitment and its collaboration with non-governmental organizations and academia have
contributed to the inclusion of global education in curriculum development. Through a
Global education research in Finland
national project As a global citizen in Finland, the National Agency for Education in
collaboration with its partners, applied the OECD 21st century skills framework to the Finnish
context and defined seven transversal competences for learning: learning to learn, global
citizen’s ethics, sustainable lifestyle, intercultural competence, civic competence,
responsibility and partnerships, and economic competence (Jääskeläinen 2016).
The 2014 national core curriculum for basic education defined global education as a
cross-cutting theme (Finnish National Agency for Education 2014) which has led to
discussions on also including global education in early childhood education as well as upper
secondary education. The core curriculum states that changes in the world affect pupils’
development and wellbeing as well as schools’ functioning. Therefore, education is required
to encounter the changes openly yet critically assessing them and bearing responsibility for
choices that contribute to future. Global education aims to create conditions for social justice
and sustainable development in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The expectation is that basic education positively contributes in society both locally and
Finland has been the only European country with global education as a clearly
mentioned cross-cutting issue in the national basic education core curriculum, integrated
across the subjects and school activities (Hartmeyer & Wegimont 2016). In addition to
curriculum design, the Finnish Ministry of Education and the National Agency for Education
has actively promoted global education by funding projects and producing guidelines and
publications (e.g. Jääskeläinen 2011; Kaivola 2008; Kaivola & Melén-Paaso 2007; Lampinen
& Melén-Paaso 2009). For example, as part of its project Education for Global Responsibility
(2007-2009), Ministry of Education published the edited collection Education for Global
Responsibility – Finnish Perspectives (Kaivola & Melén-Paaso 2007). The collection included
chapters from academics of different disciplines (e.g., social sciences, education, and law)
who reflected on their understanding of global education and gave their suggestions for the
further development of the field.
Global education research in Finland
Teacher educators have developed guidelines and materials to assist teachers in
integrating global education dimensions across school subjects for phenomenon-based
learning which refers to a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses various dimensions
and methods to understand a complex anttaphenomenon such as climate change (e.g.
Cantell 2015). NGOs have also been active in coordinating projects and publishing reports
and more recently, provided web-based learning forums and materials (especially the Finnish
Development NGOs, KEPA (today FINGO), the Peace Education Institute, UNICEF). Global
education activities have continued to be mainly project-based and short-term. In schools as
well as in teacher education it still depends on teachers’ interest to what extent and how they
implement global education. There can be observed, however, a growing interest in global
education both in research and collaboration initiatives between schools, NGOs and the
research community. Considering that in Finland the governments, regardless of their
political differences, have given quality of education a high priority, and that teacher
education and professional development aim to be research-based it is important to know
what research informs us about global education.
In this review, we focus on research publications. In the following, we first describe
the material and methods of our thematic review study. Then we present the findings
organized by the five dimensions of global education as defined in the Maastricht Declaration
(O’Loughlin & Wegimont 2003). The chapter concludes with a discussion of the findings in
light of international research in global education.
Thematic review
Our review of global education research in Finland follows UNESCO’s (2015) and
Marginson’s (2016) conceptualization of education as a global common good comprising four
dimensions: individual, collective, national and global. The literature reviewed have been
selected on the basis of their global dimension though not always directly using ‘global
education’, ‘global learning’ or ‘global citizenship education’ as key words. The selected
material was organized on the basis of the five main dimensions of global education as
Global education research in Finland
defined in the 2002 Maastricht Declaration by the Council of Europe: Development
Education, Human Rights Education, Education for Sustainability, Education for Peace and
Conflict Prevention and Intercultural Education (O’Loughlin & Wegimont 2003). The material
includes published research reports, books and journal articles and doctoral dissertations
that focus on global education in Finland. Finnish university library and internet-based
academic databases have been used in the literature search. We complemented these
searches by using our research networks in the field of global education and related fields as
well as by scrutinizing the reference lists of the identified publications. The material covers
literature published in English and Finnish.
The search is to be considered only as indicative as some publications, such as book
chapters, related to the five dimensions yet not clearly stating that in their contents or using
key words marking the scope may have been left out. Other authors who have conducted
reviews of global citizenship education also mention this kind of limitation and difficulty in
using sufficiently wide range of search terms (Goren & Yemini 2017; Oxley & Morris 2013). In
this literature search we tried, however, to find and read research reports widely and
discussed our views on the materials’ relevance in terms of global education research.
Therefore, research on citizenship and democracy without a global connection were, for
instance, not included in the review.
The focus of this review is on exploring the issues raised by the global education
research in Finland. To respond to the research question we organized the material first by
the five dimensions of global education, followed by the main themes and key findings of the
research. The material covers issues related to different actors, phases and forms of the
Finnish education system. Thus, this review differs from previous research reviews on global
education or global citizenship education that tend to have focused on curriculum, schools,
teachers and students in basic education or on different levels of education. In this review the
wider variety of topics may reflect the Finnish approach to global education as a more holistic
perspective, aiming to transform the entire education system, from early childhood education
and care to higher education and lifelong learning.
Global education research in Finland
We have organized the identified key themes and findings by the five dimensions of
global education as defined in the Maastricht Declaration (Development Education, Human
Rights Education, Education for Sustainability, Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention
and Intercultural Education). Intercultural education seems to be a leading theme, while other
dimensions have been studied much less. We then present an additional theme specific to
the Finnish context: research in global education as a cross-cutting issue.
Development education
In the Ministry of Education 2007-2009 project , development education was
perceived as increasing knowledge about global development goals and challenges but
moreover, as aiming to create a sense of global responsibility (Kaivola 2008; Kaivola &
Melén-Paaso 2007; Lampinen & Melén-Paaso 2009). In practice, development NGOs, in
particular KEPA (nowadays FINGO) have had a leading role in providing development
education both for schools and the general public (Anttalainen & Lampinen 2009). Their work
and also school level development education projects have been supported by the Ministry
for Foreign Affairs. In addition, some universities have introduced study programmes and
courses in development. From 2009, the Finnish University Partnership for International
Development (UniPID), a network of 14 universities established in 2002, has offered an
optional 25 ECTS credits minor in development studies to students of the member
universities. It is notable that non-governmental organizations and bachelor or master’s
students have produced a number of reports on development education but in research this
dimension of global education has received little attention. At the interface of educational
research and development studies the focus has been on education development in the so-
called low-income or development countries. However, the need for increasing
understanding of development issues as globally connected phenomena and for responding
Global education research in Finland
to the public interest in development cooperation has been recognized especially by the
NGOs providing global education.
Directly addressing development education as a part of global education can be seen
in Alasuutari’s (2011; 2015) research. She examined the ethical commitments in
development cooperation partnerships from the perspectives of participants in the North and
South. Her conclusion is that some of the challenges in partnerships can be traced to the
ethnocentric and uncritical approaches in global and development education, as previously
noted by Andreotti (2006) and Bourn (2008; 2015). The national core curriculum guides
teaching but teachers enjoy autonomy in choosing their approaches and implementing
development and global education. Alasuutari (2015: 108-109) identified a risk and
responsibility related to this autonomy:
the responsibility for what global issues to address and how to address them remains
with the teacher. Teachers might discuss global issues and development in their
classrooms, for example, within the rhetoric of development aid, without challenging the
asymmetry, superiority, or ethnocentrism that are part of the development aid discourse.
This kind of approach could end up in outcomes that are contradictory to those of
development and global education policies that seem to promote mutuality and
reciprocity in the area of global and development education.
Janhonen-Abruquah, Lehtomäki and Kahangwa (2017) with their colleagues explored
development education as a mutual learning task between African and Finnish university
students and teachers. The results suggest that long-term collaboration and dialogue are
conditions for joint goal setting, increased understanding and co-creation of knowledge.
Intercultural education
The notions of multicultural education and intercultural education have been used
interchangeably in Finnish research (Dervin 2013). While ‘intercultural education’ emerges
from the European context and is a preferred term of the European Union and the Council of
Global education research in Finland
Europe, ‘multicultural education’ has been used more commonly in the US, where it
originates from the civil rights movement (Tarozzi 2012). In Europe, multicultural education
has often been associated with static description of a society comprised of a diversity of
cultures, whereas intercultural education often refers to interactions of and relationships
between cultural groups in culturally diverse settings (Holm & Zilliacus 2009; Jokikokko
2010). In this section, we use both terms interchangeably to refer to a wide variety of
different approaches for dealing with cultural diversity in education. We will also discuss
research that critically discusses the established approaches and terminology.
Research in intercultural education has addressed different levels of education.
Themes include teachers’ and students’ competencies, schools and subjects as learning
contexts, curriculum and textbooks, diversity, racism and institutional or structural enabling
vs. constraining factors in education systems. While multicultural education has been
perceived as a response to the challenges of immigration and the gradually increasing
diversity in education and society with the emphasis on how to encounter the “other”, in
research there is an evident attempt to critically review underlying assumptions and
worldviews in education.
The first Finnish professor of global education (then named as ‘international
education’) Rauni Räsänen (2007a; 2007b) emphasised international and intercultural
education as ethical commitments. Instead of discussing diversity and searching for efficient
ways in which education may respond to the increasing diversity she analysed how ethics in
teaching and learning contributes to mutual respect, understanding and thus guides
interaction. Thereby she has pioneered in promoting at the same time a deeper as well as
wider perspective to intercultural education. The ultimate goal of global and intercultural
education to her is becoming a globally responsible citizen (Räsänen, 2007c).
In kindergarten teacher education students’ discussions on intercultural critical
incidents Layne and Lipponen (2016) identified three approaches: categorizing, anti-
categorizing and affective. Layne (2016) emphasizes that knowledge alone is insufficient in
Global education research in Finland
teacher education and teaching, to her ethical intercultural teaching is “to recognize unjust
structures and to connect with those who are affected by them” (p. 68).
Research in teachers’ cultural competences has examined teachers’ own perceptions
and reports, and also peer evaluations. Critical pedagogy guided Jokikokko’s (2010)
phenomenography and narrative research on teachers’ intercultural learning and
competence. The main finding was that teachers perceive their intercultural competence as a
holistic approach to issues and an ethical orientation to people, life and diversity. Learning
processes involve both formal and informal learning. Furthermore, strong emotional
experiences related to work experiences in diverse contexts contribute to the development of
intercultural competences when teachers have opportunities to reflect and share their
experiences (Jokikokko & Uitto, 2017). Laitinen’s (2014) research on teachers’ intercultural
sensitivity, effectiveness and cultural intelligence using internet-based instruments showed
that applied science university teachers perceived their intercultural competence at a
relatively high level and were motivated for intercultural communication but assessed their
intercultural performance being weaker. Results of the peer evaluation by educational
leadership and students were consistent with the teachers’ self-assessment.
Acquah (2015) investigated cultural competence of international pre-service teacher
education students from over 25 different countries, and pre-service and practising Finnish
teachers. The main finding was a course in multicultural education that fostered identity
development positively influenced the participants’ knowledge and attitudes toward diversity.
While knowledge was a central part of cultural competence equally important aspects were
abilities to use students’ language and culture, work effectively with multilingual learners’
parents/guardians, link the students’ cultural backgrounds, prior knowledge and experience
to instruction, and to modify classroom instruction. He pointed out, however, that self-
reported data may represent biases and suggested classroom observations to reveal
teachers’ action and competences in real school life.
Dervin and Layne (2013) noted how internationalisation in higher education
institutions is characterized as hospitality towards international students, how cultures are
Global education research in Finland
used as excuses, and how internationalisation is perceived as making foreign students
Finnish. Lanas (2014) questioned whether intercultural education has failed to increase the
understanding of diversity due to students’ experiences of inequity. Benjamin and Alemanji
(2017) analyzed the meaning of ‘international’ in two international schools situated in Finland
and France. Their discourse analysis focused on interviews of staff members who were
responsible for the management, branding or marketing of the schools. They argued that the
notion of international education is used to signify privilege as contrasted to multicultural
education, in a similar way as underprivileged ‘immigrants’ are contrasted to more privileged
‘expatriates’. They also critiqued the implicit Anglo-centric approach in the primarily native
English speaking staff of the international schools and the implied cultural and linguistic
imperialism. Their findings suggest that the dominance of Western educator perspectives
may have negative implications for recognition of otherness and diverse worldviews. Poulter,
Riitaoja and Kuusisto (2016) challenge the liberal secularist worldview that they claim
underlines the dominant approach of multicultural education. They argue that the
deconstruction of the binary categories of ‘religious’ and ‘non- religious’ could advance
understanding of the complexity of worldviews as well as foreground and problematize
epistemic, social and political hegemonies.
Recently, the critical debates on the conceptual underpinnings of the intercultural and
multicultural education have culminated into suggestions to revise the terminology in use.
Dervin (2015) suggested replacing the commonly practiced intercultural education and
related approached by a post-intercultural approach in which critical attention is paid to
expressions, negotiation and co-construction of cultures and identities in social interactions.
In this perspective students’ identities should be seen as intersectional, that is, being
composed of multiple potentially conflicting identities in interplay. Alemanji (2016) critiques
both multicultural and intercultural education and proposes ‘antiracist education’ in their
stead. From the perspective of antiracist education, race is not a biological category
describing individuals but rather an artificial construct that is implicitly and explicitly used to
classify people into differently privileged groups based on skin color and ancestry. In his
Global education research in Finland
study, Alemanji examined racism in Finland from the perspectives of Finnish exceptionalism,
coloniality of power, whiteness theory and denial of racism. The study illuminates structural
hierarchies related to the construct of race implicit in the Finnish society and education
system. Youth research has also paid attention to racism as experienced by young people in
society (Souto 2011).
Research in intercultural education can be characterized as having a critical
approach. The conceptual and socio-historical underpinnings of the concepts of multicultural
education, intercultural education, international education and culturally responsive teaching
have been questioned. Also the need to study teaching and learning practices in terms has
been recognized.
Human Rights Education
Human rights education was included in the Finnish national core curricula for basic
and upper secondary education in 2004 (Finnish National Agency for Education 2014). In the
national curriculum guidelines, human rights is mentioned as a fundamental value and it is
included in the mandated teaching contents of various subjects. In 2011 the National Agency
made an amendment that holocaust should be studied as an example of human rights
violation to the curricula of lower and upper secondary school regarding the teaching of
history, secular ethics and philosophy (Salmenkivi 2011).
Between 2007 and 2017 there had not been much research on human rights
education. Toivanen (2007) argues that one obstacle for the investment in human rights
education is a tendency to think that it is mainly something that other, non-Finnish people in
distant countries need (see also Matilainen 2011). Yet, Toivanen adds that human rights
problems (such as high domestic violence rate, child abuse, or racism) are also characteristic
of Finland, which, she argues, is seldom addressed in the human rights courses or course
materials. A recent report based on interviews and document analysis showed that although
human rights are considered a fundamental value by teacher educators and student teachers
Global education research in Finland
and they are included as mandatory contents in the curriculum documents, there is hardly
explicit teaching of human rights education in Finnish teacher education programs
(Rautiainen, Vanhanen-Nuutinen & Virta 2014). This lack of attention to human rights
education is noteworthy because all teachers might not have an adequate understanding and
expertise on the topic and the teaching practice can in the worst case even run contrary to
human rights ethos (Toivanen 2007; 2014).
Matilainen (2011) studied how teachers and students understood human rights and
human rights education in an upper secondary school, by means of thematic content
analysis. The findings of the study indicated that the human rights education goals as
specified by UN were not fully reached in the school under study. The students and the
teachers had only partial understanding of the notion of human rights. Human rights were
both taken for granted and perceived as a strange and difficult topic that was not relevant in
the local setting. Some of the student responses could even be read as xenophobic or even
racist. Although the teachers reported that they considered human rights important, they did
not consider themselves as human rights educators. Accordingly they addressed human
rights in their teaching either very little or not at all. Both the teachers and the students
associated human rights mostly with one or more of the following school subjects: religious
studies, history or social studies.
Apart from Matilainen’s study research on human rights education has been quite
strongly connected with Christian religious education (Matilainen & Kallioniemi 2011; Poulter,
Kuusisto, Malama & Kallioniemi 2017). Matikainen (2017) examined the philosophical basis
of human rights and the educational implications in the work of theist philosopher Nicholas
Wolterstorff. An additional, more practically oriented research strand on human rights
education emerges from the non-governmental organization sector. NGOs such as Amnesty,
UNICEF and The Finnish League for Human Rights have been important promoters of
human rights education. For example, in an action research study the Finnish National
Committee for UNICEF developed and examined a participatory and holistic model of human
Global education research in Finland
rights education based on drama education (Hassi, Niemelä, Paloniemi, Piekkari & Wolde
Overall, the studies that were reviewed for this paper were mainly uncritical of the
notion of human rights. Yet, some voices took a critical lens on human rights and human
rights education. Halme (2008) questioned the dominant position and unreflective adoption of
human rights discourse in the Finnish educational policy and curricula. She pointed to the
need to critically scrutinize the liberal socio-political and historical grounding of human rights
discourse and the position of human rights as a universal symbol of good will and promise of
a brighter future. In her empirical study of a human rights education program for university
faculty and students, she showed how the practical activity of human rights education can
give rise to hierarchical positions between experts who are educating and laymen who are
educated in human rights. These positions, furthermore, had a tendency to reproduce
privileged positions for some people (mainly for whites and men) and underprivileged
positions for others (mainly for non-Whites and women). Thus, Halme’s study underlines that
while it is important to advance human rights in education, it is equally important to recognize
their liberal Western ideological roots and what are the implicit positions for diverse people
that are produced when human rights education is practiced.
Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention
Although there is a strong tradition of peace work and peace education in Finland, in
the last decade research explicitly addressing the topic has been scarce. Löfström and
Ahonen (2014) confirm this observation, they conducted a literature search to find Finnish
texts about peace education. Out of the 183 papers they found, a great majority were
published before 1990s. For this review, we were able to locate only two research papers
fitting the scope of our study. Both of them addressed history teaching and focused on
historical conflicts and their reconciliation. Ahonen (2014) discusses the role of history
teaching in the reconciliation process of three countries that have gone through a major
armed conflict. She defines history teaching as conciliatory and resonant with peace
Global education research in Finland
education when it fosters the dialogic encounters between varied antagonist versions of the
conflicts. Regarding Finland, Ahonen analyses how the 1917 civil war stemming from a
communist revolution was reflected in history textbooks and history teaching in the various
sociopolitically distinct stages in the Finnish history. Löfström (2014) examined thematic
focus group interviews of upper secondary school students regarding their views of
institutional symbolic and material recompensations of historical wrongdoings. He showed
that analyzing historical moral problems in teaching can develop youths’ empathy and
capacity for peaceful conflict resolution and ethical reflection.
Education for Sustainability
The UNESCO policy and Decade for Education for Sustainability (ESD), and related
research networks have offered important reference frames for researchers in the fields of
education and sustainability in Finland. Both the 2007-2009 project plan on Global
Responsibility of the Finnish Ministry of Education and its final report defined education for
sustainable development important especially in terms of sustainable futures that require not
only ecological sustainability but also ethical, social and cultural commitments. Their view
has been further supported in research. For instance, the guest editors of a recent special
issue on education for sustainable development have underlined ESD as an alternative to
the dominant trend of economic growth leading globalization (Salonen, Palmberg & Aarnio-
Linnavuori 2017). Developing a sense of satisfaction or being content with life and a
commitment to sustainable futures characterize their alternative approach which seems
evident also in recent research on ESD. In this review, we highlight only some examples that
show the line of research in ESD.
Siirilä (2016) studied how the concept of sustainable development has been
interpreted in the Finnish school curricula. The main finding was the prediction of social
change that requires developmental sustainability and a sustainable way of life. This implied
that the education system was expected to contribute to the society’s commitment to
Global education research in Finland
sustainable development, to prepare citizens who understand the meaning of sustainable
development in their lives, and participate to achieve a sustainable society and future.
Uitto and Saloranta (2017) used a nationally representative sample (n=2361 9th
grade basic education pupils from 49 schools, subjects teachers (n=442) and headmasters
(n=49) in their surveys on ESD in schools. Individual level values, knowledge and
experiences explained most of the variation in students’ self-efficacy yet factors related to the
school culture were associated with the students’ self-efficacy in terms of ESD. The
indicators for school culture were practical implementation of sustainable development,
collaboration within school and cooperation with external stakeholders. Furthermore, a
significant finding was that teachers directly increase their students’ self-efficacy by using
inquiry-based and interactive teaching methods. School leadership plays a central role for
creating a school culture that promotes sustainable development. Both Uitto and Saloranta
have several publications on ESD in Finnish schools.
In 2017, the leading educational research publication venue in Finland, the Finnish
Journal of Education published a special issue on education for sustainability. The guest
editors Salonen, Palmberg and Aarnio-Linnavuori (2017) highlight the importance of positive
experiences in learning and satisfaction in the advancement of sustainable development.
They conclude that more research is needed to show how human behaviour can be
transformed towards common good by focusing on satisfaction, instead of negative or
forbidding approaches. Furthermore, they propose research of the co-variation of life
satisfaction and action in support of sustainable development to produce a more holistic view
for further development of learning and education for sustainable development both in
Finland and internationally (Salonen, Palmberg & Aarnio-Linnavuori 2017). The special issue
offers cutting-edge knowledge on the status of education for sustainable development in the
country. Eco-social development characterizes the articles, thus representing the attempt in
Finnish education and curriculum (National Agency for Education 2014) as well as in
research to go beyond the dichotomy between ‘ecological’ and ‘social’ and to promote an
overall holistic and systemic approach in education for sustainable development and global
Global education research in Finland
education. Most of the papers concentrate on environmental dimensions of sustainability yet
clearly place environmental education within a broader eco-social perspective.
Global education as a cross-cutting issue in education
The implementation of the first phase of mainstreaming global education in basic
education from 2007 faced challenges in practice. When the government introduced a Global
Education 2010 programme with the aim to reach all schools, teachers and principals found
global education as an additional task and reported on lack of sufficient time, knowledge,
skills and materials (Pudas 2015). According to Pudas (2015: 137),
even though almost 60 per cent of the principal respondents (N=87) were aware of the
GE 2010 programme, it was not systematically implemented in any of the schools.
Moreover, none of the respondent schools had a GE action plan or were planning to
draft one in the near future.
Pudas (2015) suggested that in addition to including global education in teacher education
also school leadership needs knowledge about global education. Her data however came
from the time before the 2014 national core curriculum entered into use. In the new core
curriculum global education is defined as a crosscutting theme. Whether the curriculum and
implementation guidelines offer sufficient information about the goals and criteria requires
Global education as a part of learning in education sciences in terms of
understanding global education development, global connectedness and shared
responsibility have been themes of Lehtomäki, Moate and Posti-Ahokas (2015; 2016). They
have explored university students’ significant learning experiences related to designed
learning events that have combined knowledge, critical reflections, cross-cultural dialogues
and participation in learning community activities. Their main finding is that transformative
learning requires multidimensional approaches that challenge students and support them to
Global education research in Finland
identify themselves as future education professionals, who have experienced collaboration
and making difference.
Henriksson’s study (2017) gives additional insight on the foundational role of the 2014
national core curriculum as well as the UN Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals as
sources of epistemic capital in the implementation of global education in Finnish schools.
She analyzed observation and interview data from 21 NGOs involved in global education.
Her findings also point to the importance of NGOs when supporting schools in addressing
the global education goals of the 2014 curriculum and the AGENDA 2030 goals. Henriksson
found that the NGOs have strong expertise also in participatory methods for supporting
students’ agency and societal participation as part of school teaching. Moreover, NGOs
consider involvement in curriculum development important. An emerging topic is cultural
sustainability in education. Laine’s (2017) findings show that education for cultural
sustainability requires attention on young children’s human potential, and need for
recognition and cultural inclusion, from early childhood education and care.
For global education research and development curriculum design is central. Finnish
curriculum discourse shows a clear effort to support students’ multi-layered and multicultural
identities (Zilliacus, Paulsrud & Holm 2017). Teaching and learning seem to succeed in
supporting students’ identity development, as Finnish teenagers report being open and
international, and as having multidimensional, that is national, European and global
identities. They experience group pressure that may contribute to discrimination and
contradictions in identification between global and national identities. The teenagers expect
school to provide diverse perspectives on societal issues (Lestinen, Autio-Hiltunen &
Kiviniemi 2017).
There is growing interest in research on global education both in Finland and
internationally (DERC 2018; Goren & Yemeni 2017). This review shows that of the five areas
Global education research in Finland
or dimensions of global education as defined by the Maastricht Declaration, there has been
more research in intercultural education (and related approaches) and ESD than in
development education, human rights education and education for peace and conflict
prevention. In addition, we found research that approaches global education holistically as a
cross-cutting theme. This holistic approach to global education is not unique to Finland (see
e.g., Hicks 2003) but it is explicitly supported by the Finnish national core curriculum for basic
education (Finnish National Agency for Education 2014) as well as global education NGOs
and the national network of global education researchers. The variety of research themes
related to the five dimensions may represent the researchers’ interests as well as the
pragmatic need for knowledge to guide practice. International cooperation and the
continuous dialogue between the government, non-governmental organizations and
academia have contributed to choices of research themes.
Our study of the Finnish context adds to the understanding of regional emphases on
global education. Goren and Yemeni (2017) review study exemplifies the existing research
on how global education is approached in research in different parts of the world. While not
focusing specifically on Finland, their study suggests that in Europe the global education
curricula has emphasized immigration, war and adjustment to multiculturalism. The ethos of
global education, according to Goren and Yemeni, relied mainly on moral and cultural
cosmopolitanism (see also Oxley & Morris 2013; Schattle 2008). Citing a single study
(Andreotti, Biesta & Ahenakew 2015), Goren and Yemeni maintain that Finnish global
education is conceived mostly in terms of learning about the other, without much critical
perspective. Our review includes Finnish studies more broadly and shows a different and
more varied picture of the Finnish global education research.
Whereas the cosmopolitan ethos is to some extent evident also in our sample of
studies, especially regarding human rights education, the Finnish research includes also
more critical and advocacy perspectives (Andreotti 2006; Oxley & Morris 2013). In fact, our
review shows a development trend in Finnish global education research towards more critical
perspectives. Maintaining a balance and dialogue between soft (i.e. mainly introducing
Global education research in Finland
knowledge and fostering empathy) and critical approaches (requiring involvement and
enactment; Andreotti 2006) appears to be characteristic to many of the Finnish studies.
Researchers have, for instance, recognized the importance of questioning assumptions and
perceptions in intercultural education, combined different types of methods, including critical
self-reflection and peer reviews, and suggested more research to be carried out in real
interaction situations from multiple perspectives. Our study confirms that similar to the other
European countries multiculturalism and immigration have also been major research themes
in Finland.
Our review shows that there is an ongoing debate about the terminology and
concepts used to characterize the field in Finland, in a similar manner as in the European
and international discussions (Bourn 2018; DERC 2018; Goren & Yemeni 2017; UNESCO
2018). This is evident, especially in the attempts to redefine intercultural education and
multicultural education and replace them with concepts that involve more critical
perspectives, such as antiracist education. Similar developments have also taken place
internationally (see e.g., Seriki & Brown 2017; Cole 2017). The terminological debate reflects
profound differences and controversies in the theoretical and ethical foundations of research
on global education and related research fields.
The debates on concepts and terminology are consequential because the
terminology in use influences how funding is channeled for research and practical
development. For example, the radically decreased number of studies in peace education
likely reflects the way it is defined and conceptualized. Indeed, the meaning of peace
education has changed from a broad umbrella concept – more or less synonymous to global
education – into a narrower concept that posits peace education as just one component of
global education. Similarly, the changes in the concepts and terminology can also help us
understand why development education is neglected in the recent Finnish research. Bourn
(2014) states that the notions of global education and global learning can provide a wider
frame to interpret development education, yet the shift of focus may also limit the issues
Global education research in Finland
addressed. He suggests ensuring an integrated approach to global learning, thus
emphasizing also the expected results of global education.
During the last decade, global education has been used as the overarching concept
in Finland, for example, in the national core curriculum and the guidelines for government
funding of projects. In this respect critics maintain that compared to earlier dominant
concepts, such as international education and peace education, the notion of global
education may shift the focus to individual competences and instrumental economic
concerns away from discussions of international solidarity and structural injustices that are
more politically contested (Järvelä 2002). Furthermore, research related to global education
as an ethical commitment (Räsänen 2007b) seems lacking. Also translations of concepts
usually pose a challenge.
Overall, our review shows how research in Finland follows European and international
trends yet maintains a critical stance to identify issues related to its specific sociopolitical
contexts and aims to have a holistic view of education development. Recently in Europe,
global learning has gained research attention with a focus on learning understood widely
(Bourn 2018; Scheunpflug & Mehren 2016), while several organizations (including Brookings
Institute and UNESCO; International Association for the Evaluation of Educational
Achievement; OECD) have attempted to develop instruments to measure global
competencies and global citizenship skills as universal. In Finland, assessment of the global
competencies is an emerging topic though there seems to be more emphasis on the holistic
eco-social approach aiming to the system-level development of the whole school community.
This holistic approach offers a frame for integrating the five dimensions in education which
can be interpreted as an attempt to continue the Finnish (and Nordic) tradition to value
education as the collective, social and global common good.
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... While there are examples, such as in Finland and Portugal, where there is a more of an inter-departmental approach with a strategy involving a range of ministries (Lehtomaki and Rajala, 2020;Teotonio-Pereira, 2016); nevertheless the most common approach is through funding programmes led by Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Development Co-operation or their agencies, and aimed at a range of NGOs combined with a number of strategic initiatives (Hartmeyer and Wegimont, 2016;Kuleta-Hulboj, 2020;McAuley, 2018). What has also been evident, however, is that where there is clear cooperation between the ministries and agencies responsible for development cooperation and ministries of education, there is support for raising the profile of development education within the curriculum (Tarozzi, 2020). ...
In June 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) government announced the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign Office. This decision has potential major implications for development education in the UK which has been funded by DFID since 1997. Around Europe, development education whilst primarily funded by Foreign Affairs ministries, has in some countries been closely related to development agencies. To keep governments supportive of development education requires a strong network of civil society organisations. A concern for development education is that a result of the merger of the two UK government departments could mean a move towards projects being directed towards servicing UK government foreign policy objectives rather than international development goals. A future development education strategy should aim to engage all key stakeholders including relevant ministries and civil society organisations plus academic and research bodies.
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Initiatives for preventing radicalization and violent extremism through education (PVE-E) have become a feature of global educational policy and educational institutions across all phases, from early childhood to universities, also in Finland. If schools may be regarded as safe spaces here for identity and worldview construction and experiences of belonging, the specific subject matter of PVE-E is also dangerous territory. Not least because of PVE-E’s focus on radicalization, but above all because of perceptions of schools being used as an adjunct of governmental counter-terrorism policy. We argue that understanding young people’s views on issues related to radicalization and violent extremism is critical in order to develop ethical, sustainable, contextualized, and pedagogical approaches to prevent hostilities and foster peaceful co-existence. After providing some critical framing of the Finnish educational context in a broader international setting, we thus examine young people’s views (n = 3617) in relation to the safe spaces through online survey data gathered as a part of our larger 4-year research project Growing up radical? The role of educational institutions in guiding young people’s worldview construction. Specifically focused on Finland but with potentially wider international implications, more understanding about the topic of PVE-E is needed to inform teacher education and training, to which our empirical data makes some innovative contribution.
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International education is booming. However, because of its omnipresence and indefiniteness, the meaning of the term ‘international’ has diluted¬¬. What does ‘international’ signify in international schools, especially in relation to the subjects therein? Based on a discourse analysis of interview data, this chapter reviews the meaning of ‘international’ in two dissimilar international schools in Finland and France deploying the concept of institutional habitus. Institutional habitus is discussed through the elements interpreting it; educational status, organisational practices, and the expressive characteristics. These elements create a space, where certain types of identifications and experiences are encouraged and solicited. Regarding the wider discussion on education of diversities, this chapter proposes considering the concept of institutional habitus and the school-specific translations of ‘international’ as powerful silent partners in international education.
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This article examines how students’ cultural identities are discursively constructed in the Finnish and Swedish national curricula for the compulsory school. The aim is to illuminate the manifold discourses on cultural identity which prevail within Nordic educational policy. The study employs a critical multicultural education and postcolonial perspective with a particular focus on essentialist and non-essentialist views of identity in the curricular discourses. Through discourse analysis, key terms such as ‘cultural identity’ and ‘multicultural identity’ as well as different aspects of cultural identities such as language, gender and religion are investigated. The results show diverging discourses, with distinct differences in their explicitness and implicitness in the two countries. A clear effort to see all students as having multi-layered and multicultural identities is evident in the Finnish curricular discourse whereas a more essentializing discourse emerges in the Swedish curriculum. We conclude with a discussion on the importance of addressing policy discourses on students’ cultural identities in order to ensure non-essentialist and socially just teaching and educational practice.
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Sustainability education (SE) is included in school curricula to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development (SD) into all education. This study investigates lower secondary school subject teachers as educators for sustainability. A survey was used to study the perceptions of 442 subject teachers from 49 schools in Finland. There were significant differences between the subject teachers’ perceptions of their SE competence, and the frequency with which they used different dimensions of SE (ecological, economic, social, well-being, cultural) in their teaching varied. Teachers’ age had a small effect, but gender, school, and its residential location were nonsignificant factors. Teachers could be roughly classified into three different subgroups according to their perceptions of the role of SE in their teaching; those who considered three SE dimensions rather often and used holistic sustainability approaches in their teaching (biology, geography, history); those who considered two or three dimensions often but were not active in holistic teaching (mother tongue, religion, visual arts, crafts, music, physical and health education, and home economics) and those who used one SE dimension or consider only one holistic approach in their teaching (mathematics, physics, chemistry and language). Subject teachers’ awareness of their SE competence is important to encourage them to plan and implement discipline-based and interdisciplinary SE in their teaching. The specific SE expertise of subject teachers should be taken into account in teacher training and education.
Kosmopolis, 44(2014):1, 25–43. Abstract Do historical apologies contribute to peace and reconciliation-analysing Finnish upper secondary school students' reflections Institutional apologies for historical injustices have proliferated in recent decades and there is by now a considerable body of literature on them, however citizens' views on historical apologies have been studied only little. In Finland there is research on what upper secondary school students think of the justifications, intentions and outcomes of historical reparations. This article analyses how Finnish adolescents explain the rise of historical apologies in particular, and what results they think such apologies have. The article also discusses the implications of the results of the analysis for history teaching from the point of view of the aims of peace education.
Bourn outlines the evolution of his theoretical conceptualisations of global skills. The work of Ulrick Beck is noted as a key influence. Reference is made to the influence of transformative learning and critical pedagogy and the importance of understanding of globalisation, developing a global outlook and critical thinking. A theme of his framework is the need to move beyond an intercultural perspective and one that recognizes the complexities of living and working in a global society.
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? —Langston Hughes (1951)
Religious Education (hereinafter RE) has a strong potential for promoting human rights. Consequently, it is essential to consider the human rights perspective when pondering the aims, content, and practical organisation of RE. Additionally, the issue of human rights is vital in considerations related to the place of religion in the public sphere, such as the various contexts of institutional education: kindergartens, preschools and schools. Moreover, it is important from the perspective of religious minorities in particular to consider the negotiations and clashes of values encountered by children and young people whose family socialisation differs significantly from the dominant value hegemony in the social context of schools (Kuusisto 2010, 2011a). Different interpretations of religious freedom and the right to religious education are important considerations for RE. However, the complex interplay of ‘public’ and ‘private’ must be reconsidered when analysing human rights issues related to religion. Furthermore, the framework of a child’s right to religion versus that of parents’ right to education according to worldview must be scrutinised.
In the first part of this chapter, I begin by discussing three forms of reactionary multicultural education in the US identified by Peter McLaren. I go on to analyse McLaren’s advocacy, in his postmodern phase, of ‘critical resistant multiculturalism’, a form of multiculturalism favoured by Critical Race Theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings. I conclude the section of the chapter on the US by appraising McLaren’s promotion, since he returned to the Marxist problematic, of ‘revolutionary multiculturalism’.
In this review, we first provide a brief theoretical framework introducing the current debates surrounding GCE as well as scholarly models to categorize related elements. After explaining our methodological procedure we present our analysis, which involved two distinct stages: first, we created an ad-hoc deductive categorization of the articles in our sample according to the region or country in which the studies were performed. During this stage we applied the most comprehensive taxonomy to date, developed by Oxley and Morris (2013), to demonstrate the most and least dominant types of GCE addressed in empirical studies in our cohort and map the current landscape of the field. In the second stage, we illustrated the commonalities and caveats located when the cohort was examined according to the articles’ main focus (teachers, students, and curriculum). Finally, we discuss methodological and conceptual issues for scholars executing both theoretical and empirical research in the field of GCE to take note of, based on our findings.