UV9919H1 – Educationalization – or: Why and how we think that education is the key solution to all kinds of problems

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The course is offered in collaboration with the research group “Curriculum Studies, Leadership and Educational Governance” (CLEG) and the research group “Humanities Studies in Pedagogy” (HumStud).

Responsible: Berit Karseth and Kirsten Sivesind

Guest professors: David F. Labaree, Stanford University, Rebekka Horlacher, University of Zurich, Daniel Tröhler, University of Vienna and Professor II, University of Oslo

The seminar guides doctoral candidates in their attempt to read, think, and critically reflect on a particular pattern or cultural reflex that at the same time governs today’s education policy and education research. This pattern or reflex refers to the cultural phenomenon that today, at least in the Western world, we very likely assign all different kinds of perceived social, economic, or military problems almost immediately to education. As a rule, this assignment takes place unconsciously but guides all the more the way that we define research agendas and research questions. But, as anthropologist Margaret Mead is said to have once noted, “If a fish were to become an anthropologist, the last thing it would discover would be water.” The general topic of this doctoral seminar is the water of this fish-anthropologist, about this particular culture that applies this educationalization of all kinds of perceived problems. The focus is neither on education (theories, institutions, practices) as such nor on the mere observation that (and how) the perceived social, economic, or military problems are almost immediately assigned to education. Rather, the seminar is designed to help students to explain how this particular cultural pattern or reflex labeled "educationalization" has become possible in the course of history. It focuses on how educationalization has developed from rather modest beginnings into a currently dominant way to understand the world and the self. This dominant way of thinking is expressed, as we will see, for instance in the ways we think about ourselves as modern human beings, or in the ways that perceptions of social inequality are being problematized and defined as the engine of school reform or, as last example, in the ways modern developments, perceived as challenges, are being used to initiate curriculum reform. The Doctoral Seminar – it may be called a case-based discourse analysis of modern educational thinking – thus deals with a historically grown (but also particular) way of making sense of the (modern) world, its problems, and the (modern) self, which, strikingly, are often defined in educational ways – a fact that has led to the rise of the modern educational sciences with their theories and modern educational institutions with their particular practices and reforms. 

In short: The seminar aims to help students to uncover the cultural motives of this cultural shift, to reconstruct its effects in the long 19th century, highlight more or less successful educationalizing strategies behind school reforms with regard to social inequality in the twentieth century and curriculum reforms in the 1970s. We will discuss current strategies to educationalize all kinds of perceived problems and ultimately transform our “self” to a problem that needs to be understood, diagnosed, and healed in educational ways. 

Description of each day of the course


PhD candidates at the Faculty of Educational Sciences will be given priority, but it is also possible for others to apply for the course. Applicants must have at least a Master's degree.

Candidates admitted to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Educational Sciences should apply through Studentweb 

Other applicants may apply using this application form

Registration deadline: June 16, 2019.


This is an intensive course over tree days, comprising a total of 21 hours.

Dates: August 12-14, 2019

Place: University of Oslo, Blindern, Helga Engs hus, Seminar Room 231.

Work format: Open lectures and seminars

You will find the timetable and literature on the semester webpage for this course.


1 credit point for participation without paper (80% attendance is required).

4 credit points for course participation (80% attendance is required) and an approved paper (3500-5000 words, excluding references, Times New Roman 12, line spacing 1,5). 

Candidates who want their papers considered for presentation in the course should submit their papers within August 4, 2019.

Papers are to be submitted electronically in Canvas.

The deadline for paper submission after the course is September 15, 2019.

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Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

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Autumn 2019


Autumn 2019

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