Keynote: Speed bumps, obstacles and steps forward in the search for social justice in education

Professor Gunilla Holm, University of Helsinki


Our focus within the NCoE Justice through Education (JustE) is conducting research on social justice issues for students of the present and the future. We most often focus on the speed bumps and other obstacles in this quest. At times, we experience some obstacles in our research, but other times we also see signs of progression both in our research and in policy and practice.

This talk will begin by looking at the PISA results in the Nordic countries as a way of studying schooling and justice in these countries. The national curricula are another way of examining justice in the Nordic countries; for example, the national curriculum in Finland has drastically changed over the last 20 years. It has gone from talking about multicultural education in a superficial way only aimed at immigrant students to a social justice-oriented multicultural education for all. This will be used as an example of policy change as furthering social justice in education. 

Speed bumps and obstacles in conducting research will be discussed, as they impede and complicate cross-cultural research. Finally, the impact we have strived towards with our research in JustEd will be discussed, particularly with regard to our largest project: the new teacher education program at the University of Helsinki with the profile ‘Multilingualism, diversity and social justice’.

About Gunilla Holm

Gunilla Holm is Professor of Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, and director of the Nordic Centre of ExcellenceJustice through Education in the Nordic countries’.

Her research interests are focused on issues in education related to race, ethnicity, class and gender, as well as on photography as a research method.Her current research projects include Perceptions and Constructions of Marginalization and Belonging (2013-2016) and Multilingual and Intercultural Education in Finland and Sweden (2015-2017).

Gunilla is one of the founders of the new Lower Comprehensive School Teacher Education programme in Swedish at the University of Helsinki.