Graduate students in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education have a new opportunity to bring a global perspective into their work as they seek to tackle some of the toughest issues in education.
On May 14, leaders from Stockholm University in Sweden visited campus to sign a partnership agreement with the School of Education that will enable graduate students and faculty from both institutions to share knowledge and ideas.
“This agreement helps to advance our strategic partnerships with universities in the European Union,” says Amy Stambach, professor and associate dean in the School of Education and the Division of International Studies. “It cuts across departments within the School of Education and represents an affiliation with a tier one university in Europe.”
Stockholm University is among the world’s top 100 universities, according to several well-established university rankings. The university has more than 64,000 students, more than 5,000 employees, and one of the largest education faculties in Scandinavia.
The university has strong ties with faculty in UW-Madison’s Scandinavian and Women’s Studies departments, as well as long-standing relationships with faculty in the School of Education.
Under the new agreement, Stockholm University will cover the $650,000 cost of the two-year research and teaching exchange.
“We can do things we never would do on our own funds,” says curriculum and instruction professor Tom Popkewitz. “This is allowing our students… to present their research and meet people doing related work.”
Popkewitz and Gloria Ladson-Billings, the Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies, will coordinate the partnership with colleagues at Stockholm.
“Some of us (at UW-Madison) have had long relationships with them and they respect what we do,” Popkewitz says. “When they think of things like this, they think of us.”
According to the agreement, the Swedish institution will bring groups of faculty and about 14 doctoral students from UW-Madison to Stockholm for weeklong stays that include faculty lectures, seminars and workshops. Delegations of faculty and students from Stockholm will travel to Madison for similar events.
Ladson-Billings sees the partnership as an opportunity to bring more international perspectives into the School of Education’s graduate programs and education research.
“This partnership moves us beyond local, more provincial perspectives on education,” she says. “It helps us to see the worldwide shifts and changes in the field — the changing roles of teachers, increasing standardization of curriculum and assessment, and market-based solutions.”
The partnership is designed to encourage joint research, grant proposals and publications, he says. It also will allow students to raise questions about things they might take for granted and give them a broader perspective about what they are doing and how they are doing it.
“You begin seeing yourself through eyes outside of yourself,” he says.
Leaders from both institutions hope to extend the partnership after the first two years to include opportunities for undergraduate students.