In 2011, Lund University’s new investment in educational sciences opened its doors for the first time. The organisation has already taken on a prestigious commission from the schools authority, started a graduate school and made its voice heard in the world of Swedish education.
Educational science is a subject area which includes research into fields such as learning, knowledge traditions, the role of teaching and of the educational system in our society.
The Department of Educational Sciences at Campus Helsingborg offers a programme for secondary school teacher training that is completely unique in Sweden. It is the only educational science programme in Sweden which is offered in cooperation between two higher education institutions: Lund University and Kristianstad University.
This is also the hub of an 80-strong network of researchers from Lund University who are connected to the subject.
Two major streams
– There are two major streams within the research. One studies the school as an institution and an organisation. The other, didactics, is the study of what, why, for whom and how we teach and learn a particular subject, says Roger Johansson, professor at the Department of Educational Sciences, who represents research in the subject.
He is researching how we humans create, use and communicate history to understand ourselves and our time.
– School is a gauge of current values, of what we consider to be important or necessary facts. These things are brought to a head in schools as that is where they are actually taught. There is an ongoing fight about our history and how it is to be told. What stories are relevant is a continuous conflict within the world of schools, explains Roger Johansson, who has been part of a national evaluation of history tuition in year 9.
One representative of the first stream mentioned – the school as an institution – is the department’s professor Anders Persson. He summarises the main current of his research in one word: power.
– How is power exercised in the world of education? It can be between teacher and pupil, between other parties in the school system or within the school institution as such, says Anders Persson, who recently published a book on the theories of social interaction of sociologist Erving Goffman.
– I and Roger Johansson are typical of the span within the field of educational sciences. It is a subject in which both a historian of didactics and a researcher into sociology and education have a natural place, continues Anders Persson.
Other examples of research at the Department of Educational Sciences are how children are defined in parental training sessions, and the reform undergone by upper secondary schools in Sweden in the 1960s.
Besides high scholarly quality, a guiding principle in the work of the researchers is willingness to collaborate with wider society.
– Our research is to contribute something to schools and education, to our trainee teachers and to the municipalities around us, says Roger Johansson.
One of Scandinavia's largest universities
Although it is a young organisation, the Department of Educational Sciences has brought home a prestigious commission: to be responsible for monitoring research in the field of didactics over a year on behalf of the Swedish National Agency for Education.
This entails a responsibility for selecting and writing about current research in educational sciences, which is then published on the public authority’s website for the benefit of all those involved in schooling.
– This commission is of high symbolic importance. Many applied, we got it. This is to a great extent thanks to our breadth. We are one of Scandinavia’s largest universities. There is a lot of knowledge to draw from here, in order to develop new knowledge in the best possible way, says Anders Persson.