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PHD911 Non-western educational philosophy and policy

Course description for academic year 2024/2025

Contents and structure

The module is not offered in the academic year 2024/2025.

This course enables educational theories and practices in contemporary Europe to be more deeply understood in relation to non-Western educational philosophies and policies. The focus of the course is on exploring intellectual traditions and sociocultural practices that shape school education outside of Europe, in the continents of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. It offers a survey of non-European philosophical writings on education, including such major historical theorists as Confucius, Ibn Khaldun, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ghandi, Tagore, Nishida, Said, and Freire, as well as intercultural observations of notable contemporary educational and social theorists: Michael Peters, Martha Nussbaum, Yusef Waghid, Amartya Sen, Timothy Reagan, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Joel Spring, Nicholas Burbules, Carlos Alberto Torres, Fred Dervin, Mark Halstead, and David Killick. The course will especially emphasize discussion of East Asian schools, due to both the distinctive philosophies and recent economic and educational achievements in China and Japan. Students will also explore the implications of non-western philosophical traditions for their particular school subject areas of specialization (e.g. arts education, social studies, citizenship education, physical education, etc.).

Learning Outcome

After completing the course, the student will have the following total learning outcome:


The student

  • will recognize the historical roots of contrasting intellectual traditions from outside of Europe
  • will develop insight into relationships between traditional belief systems, educational philosophies, policies, and actual practices in schooling
  • will recognize general tendencies in terms of cultural values and major challenges faced in school education on various nations and continents
  • will attain a comparative understanding of the extent to which contemporary notions of Bildung and European pedagogical practices are distinctive and culturally constructed, as well as how they both influence - and are influenced by - non-western thought


The student

  • will develop robust analytical abilities for critical comparison of philosophical arguments.
  • will be able to develop new interpretations, research questions and theory relevant to innovative educational inquiry and development of curriculum and policy
  • will be able to critically assess the sociocultural construction of contemporary Bildung theory and related educational practices

General competence

The student

  • will be able to discuss basic questions relating to the academic and practice field on other continents
  • will be able to identify and carry out comparative philosophical and policy-related studies in the field of education
  • will be able to produce professional-level scholarly work, both for publication and academic presentations

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge

Some previous studies in educational foundations or philosophy of education and some previous international experience is recommended.

Teaching methods

Course tuition extends over two 1-week periods that are separated by several weeks of individual writing. Organised tuition will be provided in the form of lectures, seminars and guidance, as well as an online platform for "blended learning" activities. Students will be periodically asked to post their ongoing writings for peer feedback during the individual/online study component of this course. Tuition will focus on understanding and discussing the main concepts and connections between the various assigned texts.

During the course, the students will develop a 10-minute academic presentation and a 10- to 12-page paper on a topic of their choice that is closely related to the course themes. The oral presentation will offer the main points of the paper while the written version it is still under development for submission at the end of the course.

Compulsory learning activities

Guidance shall primarily be associated with formulation of the paper and academic presentation. It is expected that students will actively participate in all parts of the course.

Preliminary Examinations

Students will give a 10-minute academic presentation on a late draft of their final paper for both informal and formal feedback from the professor and peer students. This presentation will be on the first day of the second week of the course, after several weeks of individual preparation. The paper will be developed further after the presentation and feedback, as well as additional lectures and discussions, and ultimately submitted after the final week is complete.

The work requirement will be assessed as approved/not approved.


Students will write a comparative scholarly article that addresses educational philosophy and policy relevant to schools in at least one non-European nation. The main body of the text will be 3000-3500 words, and must fulfil the formal requirements for scientific publication, supported by ample and relevant references.

Grading scale: pass/fail.

The article will be assessed by internal and external examiners based on the learning outcome descriptions of the course.

Examination support material

Students are free to use all materials discussed in the course as well as readings they select as part of their independent writings.

More about examination support material