New Nordic Centre of Excellence on justice through education

15.04.2013
Today, NordForsk made the decision to fund a Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) within the Education for tomorrow programme. The new NCoE “Justice through education in the Nordic countries” will look into the challenges facing the Nordic educational systems, analysing how the Nordic welfare states can continue to ensure justice through education.

The competition was fierce among the 16 contestants for the NCoE in Education for tomorrow and two applications were rated “outstanding” by both individual experts and the evaluation panel. The steering committee notes that both bids were worthy of funding but that the budget only allowed for one centre. However, there was a broad consensus that this NCoE demonstrated the kind of scientific courage the programme aims for. All the Nordic countries and a range of international partners from all over the world participate in NCoE “Justice through education in the Nordic countries”, which is led by Professor Gunilla Holm from the University of Helsinki.

The “one school for all”

The Nordic educational systems have a lot in common and are based on similar fundamental values. The guarantee of equal access to education regardless of social class, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, mother tongue or domicile was a fundamental aspect of the basic education developed in the 60s and 70s. In addition, “one school for all” has significantly contributed to a highly educated population, which in turn can secure the continuation of a democratic welfare state.

However, current societal changes put pressure on both the idea behind the Nordic democratic educational project, as well as its practical realisation. Today, educational policies relate both to societal and economic goals. The understanding of why and how justice through education is attained has changed, along with educational structures, cultures and teaching and learning practices at all levels and sectors of education.

How does education contribute to further or hinder justice in the Nordic countries? What is the project of democratic, inclusive education for justice today? The new NCoE will address such questions through multilevel, comparative, cross-cultural and cross-border educational research. By working together on a Nordic level, this research can provide data to compare the Nordic states with each other as well as internationally through the centre’s international partners and networks, thus creating useful knowledge for all Nordic countries.

The centre will critically examine and compare educational policies and how governance comes to matter for teachers and students in terms of equity and equality. This promises new innovative knowledge and we are convinced that it will make a significant global impact within the field of educational research.

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