Improving Education for a More Equitable World
All improvement requires change, but not every change is improvement.
The Improvement Guide (Gerald Langley et al., 2009)
To many, education remains a dream of equal opportunities for all learners, regardless of their backgrounds and contexts. Confucius advocated 2,500 years ago for education without discrimination (有教无类), a dream of education for all. This evolving vision was renewed right after WWII by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stipulating that everyone has the right to education. Although pioneers, like minority woman leader Patsy Mink, have long envisioned equal education with persevering efforts for the United States, the realities in the country and worldwide do not reflect this dream.
Educational reforms abound around the globe, but limited improvements have been made to actualize educational equity, as is reported again and again by the UNESCO in Global Education Monitoring Reports (2021) and more recently in Reimagining Our Futures Together: A New Social Contract for Education (2022). There are many interrelated factors, often working in tandem, attributing to these limited improvements. These factors include power disparity, income, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, language, ability, culture, religion, geo-politics, and neocolonialism, among others. It is important to note the context within which these factors exist. We are facing a global emergency of climate change, in an uncertain era post-Covid. However, the people and communities most impacted by these crises are already vulnerable and the situation will only worsen if drastic changes are not made immediately. These factors will only expand existing inequalities, and in particular, further widen the existing gaps of learning access and success. We must ask ourselves an urgent and crucial question: What responsibilities, agendas, and solutions can properly address these alarming, coalescing challenges?
Educational improvement is not merely a technical term, evidenced by the emerging, fast-growing, and interdisciplinary field of educational improvement studies. It constitutes a powerful approach and a dynamic process to advance education, through which reality and uncertainty are examined and problems are tackled. It varies across educational levels, forms, and contexts, including but not limited to equity, inclusion, diversity, quality, effectiveness, and sustainability. They each deserve stronger policy actions and more integrated theories and applications, requiring capacity- and community-building, a systemic approach, and multi-perspective inquiries.
Comparative and international perspectives are essential to fulfilling the dream of educational equity. How should we critically look at and meet desired outcomes across time and space? In what ways may micro, meso, and/or macro educational strategies, structures, and processes be improved along with their environments? How do we know through rigorous methods that we ARE making progress responsively? What changes can bring about responsible and sustainable advancement in learning, teaching, and schooling? What implications may these changes have on individual systems, contexts, and the already vulnerable planet? And how may our endeavors help redefine comparative and international education in a way that reconnects it with contextualized educational policy and practice?
Our mission for educational improvement to empower learners, educators, and many more on local, national, regional, and global scales continues daily. Our hope is to continue to engage and to inspire one another at CIES 2023, both online (February 14-15) and on-site in Washington, D.C. (February 18-22).
We enthusiastically invite you to contribute by sharing your latest research and transformative ideas on improving education for a more equitable world!
Thematic Guiding Questions for Submissions
Your submission(s) to CIES 2023 may address, but are not limited to, the thematic guiding questions listed here, which you may use as provocations or inspirations to engage with the Meeting Theme above. The following suggestions are by no means exhaustive, and your submissions should not be limited by them.
- Sub-Theme I: Social Justice and Inclusion
- What gaps in—or challenges to—social justice, equity, and inclusion can we identify in contemporary education settings? How can we amplify voices of the marginalized and minoritized or those who are denied their Indigeneity?
- How can education best reckon with conflict and war, the fragility of democratic institutions, and the undermining of education as a basic right?
- How can education best enable an awareness of inter-being, togetherness, compassion, understanding, and a cooperative future in combating social, economic, and political injustice?
- Sub-Theme II: Environmental Sustainability
- How can education best address social justice and sustainability in light of planetary degradation and climate change?
- What progress has been made on UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, including implementable examples from around the world?
- How can the study and practice of comparative education, teaching, learning, and research facilitate and enable practicing earth-sustaining measures and transition into a just and cooperative planetary future?
- Sub-Theme III: School Systems and Educators to Improve Learning and Teaching in Formal or Informal settings
- How can we go about building lifelong learning opportunities that are socially and ethically just, environmentally conscious, globally oriented, and based on empirical and observational methodological and theoretical approaches?
- How should we go about preparing teachers to educate students in uncertain, insecure moments, where competing values, pressures, and agendas exceed the traditional scope of the profession?
- How can school systems (teachers, school directors, school administrators, parents, students, board members and elected officials) be better prepared to adapt to and to combat disruptions such as natural disasters and the COVID pandemic? Under such circumstances, how can they better support and contribute meaningfully to education for all?
- Sub-Theme IV: Critical Reflection on the Society and the Field of Comparative and International Education
- What do we see if we look inwards and critically at the Comparative and International Education Society itself? How could its interrogation of social, political, economic, and cultural systems contribute to the search for solutions across contexts, systems, and communities around the world?
- How is the field of comparative and international education, which itself is rooted in colonial and post-colonial era engagements, so crucial in working toward improving education for a more equitable world across the global, South-North knowledge transfer, hegemonies, and collaborations?
- How are practices of CIE teaching, learning, and research across varied academic institutions, journals and publishing houses, governmental and non-governmental agencies, donors, development banks, and foundations shaping and reshaping the field?
These thematic guiding questions expand our understanding, but do not bind us to a single interpretation of the CIES 2023 Meeting Theme. We invite you to critically reflect on the challenges we face, while coming prepared to share not only your research, but also your vision about improving education for a more equitable world.