Focus of our research
Education without Boundaries is researching contextualised and comprehensive internationalised education that enables a local-global perspective on teaching and learning practices, strategies, pedagogies, and policies, importantly including universities’ connected engagement with society (Hudzik, 2011).
We recognise the importance of cultural humility, co-creation, equity, and creativity in partnership work for mutual understanding and promotion of mutual learning which requires reflecting on our practices, positionalities, situatedness and concerns.
Our values include being aspirational, inclusive, and ethical.
Drawing on our research plans, we aim to embed impact throughout our work, that is:
- Enriching: research that serves to influence education practices, cultural enrichment, quality of life and wellbeing; improving educational experiences, equalities, and inclusion for diverse and marginalised communities.
- Conceptual: transforming evidence-based policy in practice and influencing practitioners and professional practice, contributing to increasing public awareness and understanding of social and cultural educational issues.
- Influential: contributing towards evidence-based educational policy making and influencing public policies at a local, national, and international level, supporting positive change within organisational cultures and educational practices.
If you wish to find out more about this theme, please get in contact with Professor Katherine Wimpenny.
Our research has three distinct clusters:
Interculturality and diversity in education
Respecting cultures, and identities, creating Third Spaces for dialogue, and forging collaborations between local and global communities, this subtheme will explore how universities use local as well as (virtual) cross-border learning spaces to enable transformative engagement between students, faculty, and communities as part of inter/cross/transdisciplinary educational practices for comprehensive internationalisation.
The use of the concept ‘border’ not only refers to geo-political borders, but also (territorial) borders linked to disciplinary, research and pedagogical knowledge.
Areas of focus include:
- Macro level: What are we learning about contextualised and comprehensive internationalisation at the interface of decolonization and cross-border thinking in education practices, embedded in the broader context of curriculum transformation?
- Meso level: What are we learning about building equitable partnerships with institutions in the Global South; including advocating for a politically and culturally ethical approach to be adopted in developing North-South, South-South and North-South-South teaching and research collaborations?
- Micro level: What are we learning about community engaged scholarship, research and research capacity building including professional development opportunities through hybrid virtual exchange (Collaborative Online International Learning - COIL) learning spaces?
- Access Mark Dawson, postgraduate researcher's, co-authored book 'Success in Groupwork', which uses examples of real students' successful group projects, to offer a succinct and supportive guide, helping students tackle group assignments with confidence.
Education for sustainable development
Oriented towards justice, solidarity, and human rights, this subtheme will focus on enhancing universities’ responsiveness to local and global societies and the development of new approaches for challenge-led, transdisciplinary education for sustainable development (ESD).
Areas of focus include:
- Macro level: How can higher education institutions maximize the potential of inclusive cross-border learning spaces to enable transformative engagement involving students, faculty, and communities, especially at grassroots level, towards enhanced responsiveness to local and global societies and the development of new approaches for achieving ESD?
- Meso level: What pedagogical and research approaches are being used / developed for integrating transdisciplinary perspectives in HE?
- Micro level: How might collaborative enquiry be used as emancipatory education/transformative teaching and learning practices in HE?
New imaginaries in transnational higher education
Examining new social imaginaries that shape alternative education policy making processes and possible higher education futures in different contexts (e.g., Ron Barnett’s discussion of “Feasible Utopias”), this subtheme/research cluster will focus on awareness-raising of alternative conditions for knowledge co-creation and critique of competing and complex structures and issues driving contemporary HE practices.
Areas of focus include:
- Macro level: Examining multi-level policy making in transnational higher education, such as regional cooperation frameworks in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, global policy travel/ policy mobility, supranational/ regional, national, and institutional actors, their interactions and influences (soft power, knowledge diplomacy) on shaping HE policies and practices in the global North and South; Examining the relationship between the knowledge economy and HE practices including the critique of regulatory and competitive frameworks, such as TEF, REF, KEF; The EU definition of research as opposed to what the African union would consider research; How universities prioritise funding schemes and funders, e.g. EU Horizon, UK RI vs another funder?
- Meso level: Exploring alternative ways of conceptualising academic practices at the institutional level; how HEIs navigate different contexts and negotiate different priorities to construct international partnerships that are simultaneously cultural, political and economic projects. For example, the process of establishing collaborative doctoral programmes and pushing the boundaries of national doctorate regulations and institutional practices, and ways of (re)orientating research themes towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Micro level: New imaginaries and alternative practices at individual level, for example in building international supervisory capacity, doctoral learning ecologies and pedagogies; mutual learning and access to sharing facilities, resources and perspectives. New imaginaries are pluriversal, emergent, and processual in nature and aim to make envisaging futures possible.
The interest of our research goes beyond the influence of the classroom to consider a diversity of learning spaces which interweave to impact on educational opportunities and outcomes.
In collaboration with Walter Sisulu University and Stellenbosch University, this project focuses on enhancing staff doctoral capacity training and expertise for underrepresented groups in South Africa.
Developing a greater understanding of policies, practices, emerging priorities and concepts of higher education internationalisation in the UK and East Asia.
Transforming curricula in South Africa through internationalisation and virtual exchange.
Enhancing staff capacity building for knowledge exchange in engineering education, with Walter Sisulu University and University of Stellenbosch.
Offering virtual innovative teaching and learning opportunities to university students and marginalised groups in Jordan.
Teaching educators how to produce digitally-supported learning experiences, with a focus on fostering collaborative learning and enhanced student engagement.
Exploring intercultural learning through open education practices across the Mediterranean.
Our research team represents colleagues from across diverse disciplines with a united focus on education. Our collective research areas consider issues of the local and the global; digital, face2face, blended formal and informal learning; social justice frameworks; (inter-cross and trans) disciplinarity; cultural diversity; peace education; planetary citizenship; and policies and practical implications for education reform.
We invite self-funded or sponsored applications in the following areas:
- International curriculum transformation, bringing together comprehensive internationalisation at the interface of decolonisation of education practices [inc. decolonising epistemologies, methodologies, spaces; examining coloniality in educational practice].
- Digital learning ecologies; the impact of digital technologies on education; examining and reimagining educational spaces including Third Space learning and Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL).
- Global (graduate) citizenship education facilitated by higher education, not only focused on students and staff, but involving broader societal stakeholders
- Collaborative transnational pedagogies and research methodologies including co-design and co-creation.
- The “Post-pandemic University” with focus on academic/professional staff experiences, particularly those newly recruited during the pandemic, and those initiating doctoral study during the pandemic with pre-existing academic/professional roles.