Notes from CIES

With conference season upon us, we here at International Ed News have been busy attending and preparing for various education conferences. This week, we’re rounding up the recent Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference, which was held at the end of March in Mexico City.


This year, “conference theme was ‘Re-Mapping Global Education: South-North Dialogue’ which promoted a shift in the traditional starting point of research toward the global South. CIES President Professor Regina Cortina (Teachers College, Columbia University) and SOMEC (Sociedad Mexicana de Educación Comparada) hosted the conference where attendees and guests from 114 different countries around the world were rewarded with stimulating dialog and wonderful weather in this vibrant and culturally rich and diverse city of Mexico.”


Below, we’ve highlighted a few sessions from the conference.


Friends of IEN Alma Harris and Michelle Jones presented their work on international comparison of leading school turnaround in Indonesia and Malaysia along with Bambang Sumintono and Donnie Adams.

This paper reports on a small-scale, in-depth, qualitative comparative study of 10 low performing schools in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively that have secured significant improvement. 


A panel of scholars from Penn State, Lehigh, and elsewhere presented a session on Connecting Sustainability Education to Action and Change. This session was part of the Environmental and Sustainability Education Special Interest Group (SIG). This SIG focuses on:

describing, challenging, and mapping the interaction between education and sustainability, the global spread of sustainable development discourse across and within borders, examining the tensions between various methods of teaching sustainability, and other topics more generally related to environmental and sustainability education. We are particularly interested in papers based on empirical research (qualitative, quantitative, and/or mixed methods).


Another session focused on “Privatization and Globalizing Education Reform Policies” in Chile, India, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and the U.S.:

 This panel presents data and analyses to consider the extent to which market mechanisms in education shape educational opportunities for disadvantaged children—for better or worse—in Chile, India, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, and the U.S. We show that policymakers in many countries around the globe have been leveraging privatization and market models to address social problems. In education policy, advocates of this approach view it as means to remedy problems inherent to state-run schooling.


In a highlighted session for the Post-foundational Approaches to Comparative and International Education SIG, scholars working around the globe gathered to examined “Revisioning Archival and Ethnographic Methods in the Study of Difference.”

It can be said that ethnography and historiography “romanticize” their sources in order to excavate and narrate particular truths of the subject (Popkewitz, 2013). For the ethnographer, notions of truth can be found in the field; for the historian, these truths are located in the archive. Yet essential to both are theories and methods that prioritize the subject as the origin of and source for positive knowledge that provide the basis for qualitative research (Scott, 1991; Stoler, 2009). This session brings together scholars who engage, in different ways, “ethnographic” and “archival” methods in their research in order to crack open some of these methodological tenets of faith and challenge some of the qualitative traditions that assume, a priori, the qualities of the subject as repositories of truth. 

The papers draw upon different geographic and topical areas of focus—India and the making of a moral panic of child criminality and discourses of girl empowerment, Iran and the making of entrepreneurial subjectivities, and Kenya and the making of the impoverished target of low-fee schooling—in order to challenge traditional constructions of their “fields.” 


Another friend of the blog, Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, chaired a panel and presented alongside educators such as Escuela Nueva’s Vicky Colbert, which focused on “A South-North Dialogue on Educational Change: Pedagogy, the Teaching Profession, and Systems Change”

This panel will discuss diverse approaches to transforming pedagogy, developing the teacher profession and pursuing whole system reform in the Global South and North America. The discussion on these topics will be grounded on three large scale pedagogical change initiatives from the Global South (South Africa, Colombia, and Mexico), one from North America (the province of Ontario in Canada), and existing knowledge on a fast-growing student population: transnational students. – children and youth who live and attend school across two or more countries while keeping active social ties to their multiple homelands. Representing a wide range of contexts, theories of action, and strategies (from government-initiated top-down reform to bottom-up change from the grassroots), the presenters this panel will offer insights into the challenges and possibilities for the education sector in the Global South and North America. Each of the panelists will address the following questions: 
What are the status, the theory of action and the core strategy of the approach to educational change developed or proposed in your case?
What are key achievements and remaining challenges?
What are key lessons on changing pedagogy, developing the teacher profession, and pursuing whole system reform?
What are the implications of these lessons for the education sector in the Global South and the Global North?


In the next weeks, we’ll follow up with another roundup of some highlights from AERA, which starts this week in New York City.

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