Digesting the ANGEL Summer School on Researching Global Education and Learning

The first ever International Summer School for early career global education researchers was organized by the new UNESCO Chair on Global Citizenship Education in Higher Education at the University of Bologna, the ANGEL network and Global Education Network Europe (GENE). Among the 32 young researchers from universities all over Europe – with many participants originating from countries outside Europe – I was happy to be the one representing Finland!

In this post, I offer a few of my reflections and tips from the Summer School week.

Tip 1: Global Education Digest

The theme of the summer school was doing systematic literature reviews. Three days were filled with lectures and discussions around the terminology of global education/learning/citizenship, databases and conducting literature reviews. At the end of each day, in groups we had an in-depth look on the Global Education Digest which is a bibliography of academic publications that the ANGEL network produces annually. The 2021 version included already eight languages (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Italian and French).

As a first take-away from the Summer School, I would recommend anyone doing research on global citizenship education– or just interested reading the latest research for their work – to have a look at the Digest. I browsed through the 2021 Digest on the train to Bologna and added dozens of publications onto my reading list.

The introductions of different language versions of the Digest are also translated into English. It is interesting to read how the terminology on global education differs between countries and cultural-historical contexts. For example, check the Portuguese introduction to understand why “planetary citizenship” has become the preferred term over “global citizenship” in Brazilian research.

Tip 2: Mapping your own journey to global education

One of the keynote speakers, Annette Scheunpflug from the University of Bamberg first shared her own story, and then asked us to map our journeys in global education.

  • How did I end up where I am now?
  • Where did my journey start?
  • What kind of global learning have I been involved in?
  • How has this journey affected my understanding of the conceptual field?

We were asked to make Venn diagrams of our own paths, share them with the whole group and tell our stories in smaller groups. This was not only a wonderful icebreaker exercise, but useful for establishing our positions in the vast field of global education.

Some of our Venn diagrams are featured below.

In her keynote, Annette reminded us that we are dealing with fuzzy terms in global education. Global learning, sustainable development, global citizenship education or intercultural learning have various meanings – and power dynamics around the definitions of the terms should be clear to everyone involved in these fields.

It would have been beneficial for us to have much more time for this kind of informal sharing of each others’ research, methods, personal and professional stories. However, the schedule at the Summer School was extremely packed with speakers and group work from 9am to 6pm with only short breaks in between. Our energy levels to have academic discussions in the evening were further affected by the unusually hot weather (+34 on average, also inside many rooms at the venue). It was only at the very end of the Summer School when we were collecting contact details that I saw participants’ interests including topics such as epistemologies of the South, ecofeminism, critical pedagogy or decolonial theories, among others.

The final Summer School day was spent at a conference in the centre of Bologna: the hall is exquisitely beautiful, but was VERY hot (probably over 40 degrees inside). I would not have survived without a fan.
Photo: Riikka Suhonen.

Tip 3: Consider travelling on land instead of flying, even from Finland

Practicing what you preach can be tough: you know, acting as a responsible global citizen for more sustainable futures etc. Finland is not in the easiest geographical location to avoid flying. Yet, I was able to travel with ferry/train from Finland to Bologna (actually going to Manchester first, using the Interrail pass for the route Helsinki-Turku-Stockholm-Hamburg-Manchester, and then Manchester-London-Paris-Torino-Bologna). Many participants coming from countries much closer to Italy had flown to Bologna. Some statistics from my journey below:

Although it might be challenging for family, work or other practical reasons to organize travelling on land – as it takes at least two days to get to Italy from Finland, for example – it is worth at least to consider it. Interrail pass and booking seat reservations worked great for me. Offline work on trains is very comfortable, much more so than on airplanes. Due to time reasons, I did however fly back home, and the experience at the packed airport of Bologna with all flights delayed or cancelled (except mine) was not a pleasant one.

This is also a call for universities and other funding entities: please ensure more generous travel grants for those who want to and can travel ecologically. My participation to the Summer School was made possible by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation and I am very grateful for their support.  

Finally, here is our key reading list for the Summer School. Many of them are already well-known and widely used, but perhaps there are also new ones to the blog readers!

  • Bourn, D. (2020). (Ed.) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning. London: Bloomsbury
  • Goren, H. & Yemini, M. (2017). Global citizenship education redefined. A systematic review of empirical studies on global citizenship education. International Journal of Educational Research, 82, 170-183.
  • Hartmeyer, H. and Wegimont, L. (eds) (2016) Global Education in Europe Revisited. Munster: Waxmann.
  • Oxley, L., and Morris, P. (2013). Global Citizenship: A Typology for Distinguishing Its Multiple Conceptions. British Journal of Educational Studies, 61 (3). 301–25.
  • Pashby, K., da Costa, M., Stein, S., & Andreotti, V. (2020). A meta-review of typologies of global citizenship education. Comparative Education, 56(2), 144–164.
  • Shultz, L. (2007). Educating for global citizenship: Conflicting agendas and understandings. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 53(3), 248–258
  • Tarozzi, M. and Torres, C. A. (2016). Global citizenship education and the crises of multiculturalism. London: Bloomsbury.

The Summer School event report and evaluation are available at https://angel-network.net/SummerSchoolReport. A more visual report of the event can be seen below in the compilation of short video clips and photos from the week!

Compilation of video clips and photos from the Summer School by the organisers: UNESCO Chair in Global Citizenship Education in Higher Education.

Riikka Suhonen is a doctoral researcher in the Doctoral Programme in School, Education, Society and Culture (SEDUCE), Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. In her PhD research, she examines how global citizenship education is understood and enacted in the context of upper secondary vocational education and training in Finland.

riikka.suhonen (at) helsinki.fi
Twitter: @Af_riikka
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6167-6352

Photos and video: Summer school organisers / UNESCO Chair in Global Citizenship Education in Higher Education.

Book review: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning (2020)

Bourn, D. (Ed.). (2020). The Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350108769

Research on global (citizenship) education is growing. This is clearly demonstrated in the nearly 500 pages of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning, published in 2020.

Douglas Bourn, the editor of this landmark book is a Professor of Development Education, Director of Development Education Research Centre at the University College London, and the Chair of the Advisory Board for Academic Network of Global Education Researchers (ANGEL).

In this blog post, I want to highlight some chapters of the book that could interest particularly researchers and practitioners based in Finland. I have divided them under three good reasons to read the handbook: 1) Getting to know the diversity of global education; 2) Acquainting yourself with the latest research; and 3) Positioning yourself in the field of global education.

1.      Get to know the diversity of global education

The Handbook represents the diversity of global education both thematically and geographically. Through Bourn’s introduction and conclusions, the reader gains a wide overview of the diversity and historical background of GE approaches. Bourn describes how the values of social justice, equity and human rights are central, but also Freirean critical pedagogy, dialogue and social action together with post-colonial and post-structural thinking continue to influence the current GE research.

The book is divided into six themes: 1) Challenges for Today and Tomorrow; 2) Theoretical Perspectives; 3) Impact of Policies and Programmes; 4) Global Perspectives in Higher Education; 5) Global Education and Learning within Schools; and 6) Learning and Experience and Being Global Citizens.

The 33 chapters of the handbook cover research from all over the world: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Poland, Spain, Tobago, Taiwan, South Africa, United States, UK, and Zanzibar.

For Finnish researchers, an interesting chapter to start could be the review “Global Education Research in Finland” by Elina Lehtomäki and Antti Rajala. Using the five dimensions of GE from the Maastricht Declaration as the basis, they note how GE research in Finland has focused on intercultural education and education for sustainable development and much less on development education, human rights education or education for peace and conflict prevention.

Another chapter focuses on higher education students in Finland: Hanna Posti-Ahokas, Josephine Moate and Elina Lehtomäki write about the need to challenge students’ understanding of development and global responsibility in “How Do Higher Education Students Negotiate Global Responsibility in Education?”.

A screenshot from Elina Lehtomäki’s presentation on the book chapter on GE research in Finland at the EERA Conference symposium on global education in September 2021.

2.      Acquaint yourself with the latest research

The Handbook includes chapters both by well-known, established global education researchers (e.g. Bourn, Andreotti, Scheunpflug) as well as emerging PhD researchers sharing their latest results.

Those working on teacher training may find Claire Bennett’s chapter “Continuing Professional Development of Teachers in Global Learning: What Works?” valuable. Bennett argues for time and ongoing support for teachers instead of one-off training events. Teachers value collaboration within or between schools with peers, thus creating the feeling of being “in it together”. Teachers also appreciate regaining a sense of purpose and developing their knowledge and pedagogy as a result of CPD, and call for follow-up sessions to reflect on the practical implementation of their learning.  

Organisations dealing with international volunteering, internships or study exchanges may gain insights from Mags Liddy’s chapter “Apprenticeship of Reflexivity: Immersive Learning from International Volunteering as Teacher Professional Development”. Liddy focuses on Irish teachers volunteering for short periods in Indian schools. She highlights that thorough preparation and questioning one’s own practice reflexively are needed for the international experience to become transformational. According to Liddy, affective moments of learning, having to deal with uncomfortability and reassessing Western privileges are key for global learning to take place.

3.      Position yourself in the field of global education

The range of GE can be overwhelming: Where do you locate yourself in this vast field? The diversity of different disciplines, levels of education and geographical locations is well represented in the Handbook.

For example Madeleine Le Bourdon’s chapter “The Role of Informal Spaces in Global Citizenship Education” explores non-formal educational summer camps and how informal spaces can provide “the time and space lacking in structured learning environment, as well as the opportunity for peer and independent learning” (Le Bourdon, 2020).

This case of informal learning reminds me of a task given to university students on the course “Education and Global Justice”. One group chose Extinction Rebellion Finland from the list of possible organisations and interviewed some of its members. The XR volunteers were extremely surprised to be even considered as “global educators”, although they had been conducting informal school visits, and were engaged in a global, democratic climate justice movement at the community level. Critical, advocacy-oriented GE can materialize in this kind of more self-educative form of ‘Bildung’ among adults. GE in a kindergarten would look very different: there is no one right way of doing global education, and this is well conveyed throughout the Handbook.  

How to read the Handbook?

After reading around a dozen of the chapters, I can see many potential usages for this Handbook. We have included some chapters as course literature in the “Education and Global Justice” course organized for the Changing Education Master’s students at the University of Helsinki.

The book can also be used for self or group study, focusing on the themes of your particular interest. For instance, people working on GE projects may find chapters on impact, or on teachers’ CPD beneficial when designing new initiatives around GE.

It could be fruitful to pick a chapter to read with colleagues or peers from workplaces or networks, and discuss the text in a reading circle. Bringing diverse thoughts together might even create new ideas for future research or practice of global education!


Riikka Suhonen
Doctoral researcher in the Doctoral Programme on School, Education, Culture and Society (SEDUCE)
University of Helsinki
riikka.suhonen (at) helsinki.fi

Twitter: @Af_riikka
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6167-6352