Centre for International Education Research (CIER)

CIER Projects

CIER members have extensive experience in philosophical, historical, and socio-linguistic work as well as in large-scale, multi-country and interdisciplinary projects. 

Current and recent projects

Adult Education 100: Rethinking and Remaking Education for Adults

This is a major campaign marking the centenary of the seminal 1919 Ministry of Reconstruction Report on Adult Education. It seeks to review and reframe adult education and lifelong learning for the 21st century. Among its activities are the Centenary Commission on Adult Education, chaired by Dame Helen Ghosh, Master of Balliol College, Oxford, which reported in November 2019 (see Centenary Commission ). As part of the campaign, the annual SCUTREA conference on adult education took place at the University of Nottingham in July 2019, focussing on “Adult Education 100: Reflections & Reconstructions”.

Duration of project: 2019-20
Investigators: John Holford (Principal Investigator) and Sharon Clancy
Funding body: Further Education Trust for Leadership and others
Further details: 
Centenary Commission

 

Enliven

ENLIVEN (Encouraging Lifelong Learning for an Inclusive and Vibrant Europe) is a research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme. There are ten partners: six leading universities, two Academies of Science, and a leading research consultancy.  Nottingham’s contribution includes teams from the School of Education (which co-ordinates the entire project) and School of Computer Science. It is a major EU commitment in this research area, and has received close attention from relevant sections of the European Commission, especially the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, which is now responsible for adult education.

The project focusses on lifelong learning among young adults, particularly those who are less privileged (or more ‘vulnerable’) and do not proceed into higher education. It is organised in eleven work packages (WPs), nine of which are research-based. Three focus on aspects of policy and its impact; one is a largely econometric analysis of participation in adult learning and the factors that underlie it; three are devoted to in-depth case studies of learning in the workplace, including learning of social activism and two develop an Intelligent Decision Support System, using an Artificial Intelligence methodology. 

Duration of project: 2016-2019
Investigator:
John Holford (Principal Investigator) 
Funding body: European Union's Horizon 2020 Research Programme
Further details: 
H2020enliven

 

Why Teach Research and Research Teaching? - Comparative View of the Tensions between Research and Teaching in Europe’s Universities

This project compares and contrasts the research/teaching nexus in selected case-study countries within the European Economic Area. A cross-case analysis of the link between research and teaching will also shed light on the potential domestic policy change derived from the Europeanisation of education. Given the prevalence of metricisation of both research and teaching, as well as the corresponding issues regarding equality and diversity amongst staff, the outcomes will reflect on whose research and teaching are propagated within the discipline of sociology. The outcomes of this project will contribute to debates on the purpose and future of universities, pointing to the different approaches in which the roles of universities can be understood.

Duration of project:
2019-22
Investigator: 
Rita Hordósy (Principal Investigator)
Funding body: Nottingham Research Fellowship

 

Translating GeoNutrition (TGN): Reducing Mineral Micronutrient Deficiencies (MMNDs) in Zimbabwe 

Mineral micronutrient deficiencies (MMNDs) remain a global challenge affecting the growth, development, health, and livelihoods of more than two billion people. MMNDs are especially prevalent in Low Income Countries of sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia. Women and children are at particular risk of MMNDs due to unequal access to nutrient-rich foods within the home. Constraints to reducing MMNDs, especially in SSA, include:

  • baseline data on the distribution of MMNDs, especially within a country
  • national research capacity to get the information needed to provide a sound evidence base, and potential solutions, for policy makers, private sector investors, and other interested parties (citizens, donors, public health professionals)

Translating GeoNutrition Aims:

  1. To co-design a national surveillance programme to establish baseline MMNDs in Zimbabwe
  2. To improve institutional and individual research capacity in Zimbabwe, including to test policy interventions for alleviating MMNDs and to promote private sector engagement
 

Duration of project: 2019-21
Investigators:
Martin Broadley - Principal Investigator, Simon Langley-Evans, Simon McGrath
and Juliet Thondhlana
Funding body: ESRC GCRF
Further information:
Project website

 

VET Africa 4.0: Reducing Inequality and Enhancing Sustainability through Skills Development

A new approach to vocational education and training in Africa is needed to address Agenda 2030's insights that development necessitates concentrated attention to overturning intersectional disadvantage and securing environmental sustainability, and not just to economic growth. Through case studies from South Africa and Uganda, this project looks at a range of contexts in which skills development takes place within complex skills and work ecosystems. These include massive infrastructure projects, both urban and rural; green skills initiatives alongside continued developments in extractives; and small community projects, including in post-conflict contexts, addressing both subsistence and entrepreneurship. By operating at both theoretical and applied levels across multiple cases, this research will contribute both to academic and professional knowledge of how VET in Africa works and how it can be improved to contribute to the needs of the most intersectionally marginalised, national development and the global SDG agenda.

Project duration: 2018-21
Investigators:
Simon McGrath - Principal Investigator and Volker Wedekind
Funding body: Economic and Social Research Council and Global Challenges Research Fund
Further information: Project website

 

Miratho Project: Inclusive Higher-Education Learning Outcomes for Rural and Township Youth: Developing a Multi-Dimensional Capabilities-Based Higher Education Index 

From a human development and capability- expanding perspective, Miratho is a project based in South Africa investigating how complex biographical, socio-economic, policy, and educational factors enable or inhibit pathways for rural and township youth to get in, get on, and get out of higher education, in terms of ‘learning outcomes’ achieved. Miratho are informal bridges, usually constructed by community members during times of floods or other natural disasters. They allow students from the village to get to school, symbolising determination to access education even in the face of danger.

Project duration: 2016-20
Investigator:
Monica McLean
Funding body: 
Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development
Further information: Project website

 

Combating Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe: The Role of NGOs in the Fight against Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe

This ESRC-GCRF funded project, aims to map the human trafficking activity in Zimbabwe through secondary analysis of NGO data and raise awareness of the trends, prevalent of different forms of human trafficking and the impact on gender and age, in order to inform policy and practice. Through interdisciplinary and participatory research with 4 NGOs involved with anti-human trafficking work in Zimbabwe, this project fills a major evidence gap about the role played by NGOs in the fight against human trafficking.

Project duration: 2019-21
Investigator: 
Juliet Thondhlana
Funding body: 
ESRC-GCRF
Further information: Project website

 

Writing for Sustainable Development: Towards Strengthening African Grant and Research Writing for Publication

This British Academy funded writing workshop project has ended. The 3-day writing workshop was organised by the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE) in partnership with the University of Nottingham and hosted by the University of Zimbabwe from 24-26 September 2019. The workshop was aimed at supporting and enriching the hitherto limited partnership between academics in the Global South as well as promoting professional networks and mentorship between academics and publishers from the Global North. Using the training of trainer model to develop the requisite research and grant writing capacities of early career researchers in African universities the trained participants are expected to create a ripple effect in their institutions and countries to further the African countries’ agenda to achieve sustainable development goals through higher education.

Project duration: 2019
Investigators: 
Juliet Thondhlana - Principal Investigator and Simon McGrath
Funding body:
British Academy
Further information: Project website

 

Internationalisation of Higher Education: The Case of Zimbabwe

This collaborative project between UoN and the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE) is a 5-phase research and development project including a scoping study, dissemination and planning seminar; workshop with Zimbabwean HEI Vice Chancellors to develop a theory of change for the internationalisation of Zimbabwean HEIs; workshop for all stakeholders to develop an IHE policy framework that HEIs can draw from; and capacity building activities for the operationalisation of the IHE policy.

Project duration: 2019-20
Investigators: 
Juliet Thondhlana - Principal Investigator and Simon McGrath
Funding body: 
ESRC Seedcorn
Further information: 
Project report

 

Organisational and Research Cultures in African Universities

This multi-African nation (currently 7 countries including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe) study explores cultures of African universities looking at how they enable them to tackle the current challenges around globalisation of research, funding limitations, and the increasing need to produce Africa-centred research; how cultures of universities in Africa are negotiated by academics; how university leaders influence research culture; how institutional (organisational) cultures of African universities facilitate or hinder research; and what policy and structural changes are necessary in order to surface and embed networks of scholarly innovation, productivity and impact.

Project duration: 2017-20
Investigators: 
Juliet Thondhlana - Principal Investigator and Simon McGrath

 

British Academy Writing Workshop for Sub-Saharan Africa (Early Career Researchers)

The University of Nottingham and the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education, in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe, with funding support from the British Academy held a writing workshop at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare in September 2019. 

This project unites researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and the UK to democratise cross-cultural knowledge production and challenge modern Eurocentric epistemologies and systems of academic publication. Participants include researchers and scholar-activists using critical, feminist and creative methodologies to inform inquiries that challenge capitalist, colonial and patriarchal models of development, and that strengthen movements to defend dignified life at local and global levels.

Project duration: 2019
Investigator: 
Juliet Thondhlana
Funding body:
British Academy
Further information: 
Project webpage

 

The South African Vocational Education and Skills Development System 1970-Present: An Institutional Analysis of Systemic Reform and Institutional Resilience

In the context of global attention on vocational education and skills development systems, this research focuses on the perennial reforms to vocational education in South Africa from 1970 to the present. Drawing on historical-sociological perspectives, neo-institutional theory and policy sociology, this project analyses how and why education and training institutions change (or resist change) and what the South African case reveals about the underlying processes that shape institutions over time.

Project duration: 2018-20
Investigator:
Volker Wedekind - Principal Investigator and Simon McGrath
Funding body: 
British Academy

 

Women Strike for Life: New Educational Struggles in Transatlantic Perspective

This project is a small, one-year, multi-method study aims to understand the motivations and experiences of women teachers, education activists and organisers who have been involved in education strikes and other collective actions in the UK and US since 2008. It is based on up to 50 interviews with participants, an analysis of media reports and published reflections on the strikes, and a critical review of academic research about this period of organising in education. The project examines recent education strikes as vital chapters in the histories of workers’ and teachers’ organisation in each national context, explores cross-national movement learning, and seeks to better understand teachers’, families’ and communities’ experiences of resisting and responding to capitalist austerity within a broader ‘crisis of care’. It also explores whether recent teachers’ in these contexts strikes are part of global developments in both educational and women’s politics, given that teachers’ demands for secure and dignified lives, and for the future of communities and children resonate with those made by women around the world in defense of viable conditions for the reproduction of social life. The fact that teachers in public education systems are being tasked with responsibilities for the care of children and communities that go far beyond classroom teaching could suggest a relationship to this diverse set of global movements.  

Project duration: 2019-present
Investigators: Sarah Amsler - Principal Investigator (University of Nottingham) and Nancy Hanrahan (George Mason University, US)
Funding body: George Mason University 

 

Writing for Another World: Building Transnational Relationships in Post-Capitalist, Post-Development and Post-Patriarchal Research 

This project unites researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and the UK to democratise cross-cultural knowledge production and challenge modern Eurocentric epistemologies and systems of academic publication. Participants include researchers and scholar-activists using critical, feminist and creative methodologies to inform inquiries that challenge capitalist, colonial and patriarchal models of development, and that strengthen movements to defend dignified life at local and global levels.

Project duration: 2018
Investigator:
Sarah Amsler
Funding body: British Academy

 

Practices of Possibility in Neoliberal Education Systems 

This project enables academic researchers, educational practitioners and deep-change activists to explore questions of possibility and hope in neoliberal education contexts. Following a critical phenomenological study, the research continues with collaborative workshops to co-design experimental pedagogies for ‘epistemic and ontological disobedience’ such as are required for autonomous agency and for imagining post-Anthropocene social and educational futures. Of particular interest in this project is facilitating understanding among educators involved in this work in different locations – inside and outside formal institutions, and in the global Norths and Souths.

Project duration: 2015-16
Investigator: Sarah Amsler
Funding body: Independent Social Research Foundation 

 

Kenya-Nottingham Partnership in Kenyan University - Transformation of Pharmacy and Chemistry Degree Provision

Under the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) initiative to support HE transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the K-N partnership is made up of the University of Nottingham, University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Maseno University. The project aims to coproduce and evaluate a plan to reinvigorate the content and approaches to teaching, learning and assessment of outdated pharmacy and chemistry courses. Working with local Kenyan healthcare, pharmaceutical and chemical industries to identify population needs, a context-specific competency framework will be constructed to support a skilled workforce for Kenya

Project duration: 2018-20
Investigators: Claire Anderson (Pharmacy), Robert Mokaya (Chemistry), Simon MCGrath (Education) and Trevor Farren (Chemistry BPU)
Funding body: Department for International Development 

 

Transforming Education Systems for Sustainable Development (TES4SD) Network Plus

The Transforming Education Systems for Sustainable Development (TES4SD) Network Plus will develop sustainable institutional capacity in India, South Africa, Rwanda and Somalia to produce high quality research that will assist key stakeholders in these countries and at a regional and global scale to better understand how education systems can be transformed to support sustainable development. Countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are facing unprecedented challenges in relation to sustainable development including poverty and inequality and managing the risks posed by climate change. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) represent a holistic response to these challenges.Education has enormous potential to act as a driver for sustainable development and the education SDG is centrally implicated in the realisation of all of the other SDGs. At present, however, education systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are some way off achieving the education SDG (goal 4). Our vision, consistent with global, regional and national agendas, is for systems of life-long learning that can provide learners with the skills, competencies, values and transformative agency required to meet the challenges of environmentally sustainable and socially just development. The 'wicked problem' that education systems face in realising this vision is how to simultaneously address the current learning crisis in LMICs whilst transforming education systems to become drivers of SD. This challenge needs to be addressed simultaneously across all sectors of the education and training system and at the global, regional, national and local scales.

Project duration: 2019-22
Investigators: 
Leon Tikly (Bristol) and Simon MCGrath (Nottingham)
Funding body: ESRC GCRF
Further information: Project website

 

Powerful Knowledge for all: Is there a Social Justice Dimension to Geocapabilities?

GeoCapabilities offers an approach for unlocking powerful disciplinary knowledge (PDK) for children. In phase three of the project, we are exploring how far GeoCapabilities ‘works’ for teachers serving communities in challenging socio-economic circumstances. We connect GeoCapabilities to social justice in education, theoretically. Then, using the topic of migration, we discuss initial empirical findings of how teachers understand PDK and their challenges for teaching PDK. Collaborative work between teachers and academics suggests that the social justice dimension of GeoCapabilities could be realised, with appropriate support for teachers. We conclude with a set of principles to inform the future work of GeoCapabilities.

Project duration: 2018-20
Investigator:
Mary Biddulph
Funding body: 13-EC
Further information: Project article

 

Photography as Political Practice in National Socialism

This project explores the role of photography in understanding, teaching, and commemorating National Socialism and the Holocaust. It brings together an interdisciplinary team from History, Education and Computer Science, led by PI Prof Maiken Umbach, with the National Holocaust Centre and Museum as project partners.

Project duration: 2018-21
Investigator:
Gary Mills
Funding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Further information: Project website

 

 

Centre for International Education Research

School of Education
University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Nottingham, NG8 1BB


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