Center for International Education

CIES Symposium 2017: Interrogating and Innovating CIE Research

In 2017, the Center for International Education, in collaboration with the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) hosted a two-day research symposium focusing on Interrogating and Innovating CIE Research.

The symposium sought to anchor the notion that how comparative and international education phenomena are studied, the questions we ask, the tools we use and the epistemological, ontological, and ideological orientations they reflect, shape the nature of the knowledge produced, the value placed on that knowledge, and of critical importance, its pedagogy and implications for practice in diverse societies globally. Both within and beyond the field of Comparative and International Education (CIE), scholars and practitioners have raised concerns about the colonial and neo-colonial practices and dynamics that have been reproduced and/or have characterized (in part) the history of CIE. Speakers provided statements, participated in podcasts, and a number of panels and presentations delved deeper into these issues. Furthermore, a recent book edited by the convenors of the symposium furthers the conversation.

Our vision was to offer platforms for discussion and dialogue amongst CIE scholars who are committed to fostering a deeper understanding of methods and methodological issues.

“Historically, within ICE [International Comparative Education] there has been a sense that the goals of research are to furnish reliable information about educational systems, ideals, problems and activities” (Carey, 1966, p. 418). Over time, this idea has consistently changed and with that evolution comes an effort to deconstruct systems and subsystems towards sharing and utilizing “theories and concepts…in cooperatively developing strategies for educational development (p. 419). In the intervening years, discussions addressing concerns of hegemonic power, insular understanding of cultures and peoples and increased awareness of the colonizers and the colonized have grown (Marginson & Mollis, 2001; Benhabib, 2002).

The foundation of comparison underlying CIE over the past fifty years has moved from a sole focus on measurement, which seeks to refine metrics to engage in sound evidence-based findings, to recognition of the importance of qualitative understandings of context and meaning. In reflecting on the role, function, and use of research, CIE now attends to larger philosophical questions that are explicit, implicit, overt, and covert. Some of these questions relate to how we know what we know; and, how do our experiences color what and how we know? Other questions emerging from this discussion include: addressing who has power over knowledge production and its dissemination (Quinn, 1998), to whom access is granted, and interrogating the role of researcher identity and what researchers and practitioners can do to displace entrenched power relations in and through the production and use of CIE knowledge.