Why was the creation of this UNESCO chair necessary? What is its purpose?
Gita Steiner-Khamsi: The main purpose of the chair programme is to strengthen policy research in education in ways that helps surface, amplify and disseminate expertise and scholarship from the Global South. The designation of the chair programme is in studies of comparative education policy. More often than not, reforms in education, or in other sectors for that matter, are designed in the Global North and then catapulted to the Global South. National experts are then reduced to local adapters and implementers of these imported reforms.
We attempt to tackle this asymmetry. In fact, there is currently a large gap that yawns in international cooperation between the international rhetoric of national ownership and the acknowledgement of national expertise. The study and research of policy studies at graduate level will help to bring to light and help “certify”, at the international level, the knowledge and expertise that already exists in Global South countries.
What actions will you take as Chair?
Gita Steiner-Khamsi: UNESCO is known for its convening power vis-à-vis governments and government officials. In other words, governments lend their ears to UNESCO. Drawing on UNESCO’s unique position, the chair programme focuses on policy brokerage, that is, promotes the use of research evidence for policy decisions.
We will actively support scholars from the Global South to communicate their research effectively by preparing knowledge products in diverse formats and disseminating them through various channels, including video and social media. NORRAG brings substantive experience in this area and serves as an honest broker that bridges research and policy, the local and the global, and the producers and users of knowledge.
How will this Chair connect the work of researchers at the Institute with global actors?
Chanwoong Baek: The Geneva Graduate Institute is situated in an ideal environment as it enables us to build a close collaboration with its researchers and centres. Indeed, many of the researchers and students study global governance and public policy, and closely work with IOs, governments, NGOs and academic institutions located in International Geneva and beyond, bridging knowledge production and uptake for policy and planning.
We will collaborate with the academic departments, programmes and centres not only to amplify the existing research, teaching and outreach activities but also to organise new initiatives that promote the right to education and explore collaboratively how education impacts other sectors such as, environment, health, migration, etc. For example, contributing to the recent efforts to strengthen education policy studies at the Institute, we wish to invite periodically a senior faculty member from the Global South to teach a course or a series of workshops online at the Institute. We also plan to encourage and organise the development of research projects and PhD/master projects that engage issues in comparative and international education policy.