Living Together: Globalisation, Education and Intercultural Dialogue

Associate Professor Joseph Zajda

Abstract

Globalisation has affected the nature of the debate in intercultural dialogue. It has resulted in structural and qualitative changes in education and policy, including an increasing focus on the 'lifelong learning for all', and a 'cradle-to-grave' metaphor of learning in the global culture. In this paper, it is argued that there is a need to re-assert the relevance of intercultural dialogue in an increasingly interdependent world. Comparative and international discourses surrounding other cultures, can often lead us to identify and question beliefs and assumptions that are taken for granted, by making the familiar strange and the strange familiar, and questioning the 'universality' of our beliefs and assumptions.

Recent global events depicting violence, conflicts, and war, demonstrate the need for a more visible paradigm of intercultural dialogue in comparative education research, which needs to focus more on emerging significant issues in intercultural and cross-cultural understanding globally, affecting identity politics, liberty and democracy. Informed and balanced intercultural dialogue can help us to define, explain and critique what is achievable, especially within the current imperatives of globalization and education reforms. It is not sufficient to depict cultural differences in intercultural research, and there is now a need to re-discover to what degree such culturally differences can be 'generalised' across cultures. In particular, the issues to be addressed in future research should include: What kinds of roles do our perceptions, expectations, and self-fulfilling prophecies about particular groups play in intercultural dialogue and conflict analysis, and the relationship between globalization, education and emerging cultural values.

Globalisation, Education and Intercultural Dialogue

The paper explores the problematic relationship surrounding globalisation, education reforms, intercultural dialogue and the State, against the background of comparative education research and a clash of civilizations (Appadurai, 1990, Robertson, 1992, Huntington, 1996, Arnove, Robert, & Torres, 1999, Stiglitz, 2002, and Zajda, 2005). The paper is an attempt to answer the following question: How can we contribute to the creation of a more peaceful, equitable, and just society for everyone? Recent global events depicting violence, conflicts, and war, demonstrate the need for a more visible comparative education research, which needs to focus more on emerging significant issues in intercultural and cross-cultural understanding globally.

Epistemological Issues

One of the first problems in researching the nexus between pedagogy and intercultural dialogue deals with the use of terminology, the meanings attached to it, and the resultant interpretations and behaviour patterns. Like many other intercultural researchers, BĂ©atrice Rafoni (2003) explains that intercultural research has many definitions in multidisciplinary approaches, and a very 'rich variety in works, approaches and definitions'. In France, Rafone argues, the term intercultural is 'not a set notion, neither in the terminology nor in the items'. The ambiguities surrounding terminology and approaches in cross-cultural and intercultural dialogue have been addressed by Stephan Dahl (2000, 2004) in his overview of the main concepts and theories in intercultural communication in the works of Hall, Hofstede, Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, Schwartz, and others. He argues that the term 'culture', within the domain of intercultural communication, is often used 'loosely' in everyday language, and as such it affects one's identity, and national boundary, and that despite all efforts, including Schwartz's (2002) research on distinct values types, generated from his cross-cultural research in 63 countries, and Hofstede's influential finding, 'there is no commonly acknowledged "correct" concept of culture' (Dahl, 2004).

Some scholars, like Maureen Guirdham (2004), and Jerzy Smolicz (2005) believe that authentic and dialogical intercultural communication skills hold the key to resolve global political, social and religious conflicts. Smolicz argues that effective intercultural communication, cross-cultural values education and intercultural transformation can influence people's perceptions and their views of the world, and may be reflected in increased metacognitive, reflective and critical thinking domains, affecting their thinking, values and action (Smolicz, 2005). Similarly, Rosita Albert (2006) observes that in order to address interethnic conflict, intercultural research should focus more on interethnic relations, prejudice reduction, and conflict resolution. Majhanovich (2006), on the other hand, with reference to intercultural dialogue, focuses on the impact of neo-liberal economy and globalisation on education and immigrant/minority students. The imperatives of globalisation impact on most nations around the world. Globalising pedagogies focus, among other things, especially in the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia, on critical literacy, and the 'knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy' (National Research Council, 2002: 8).

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Ontological Issues

The other problem, surrounding the nature of debate in education and intercultural dialogue, is understanding the intercultural implications of 'Learning to Be', one of the pillars of education for the 21st century. The Delors Report (1996) stated, that 'Individual development is a dialectical process which starts with knowing oneself and then opens out to relationships with others. In this sense, intercultural pedagogy becomes an 'inner journey' (Delors Report, 1996, p.95). At the epistemological level, 'Learning to Be', as applied to intercultural dialogue, has cross-cultural implications (Zajda, 2004, p. 84). It can be argued that, in a dialectical and existentialist sense, 'Learning to Be' is between, across and beyond cultures. In the context of such a transdisciplinary action research, 'Learning to Be' offers an authentic and worthwhile trans-cultural dimension, which enables the individuals to develop an authentic and empowering vision on the meaning of life, peace, and tolerance.

One of the pioneers of intercultural dialogue and research was Sarah E. Roberts (1946), who was writing on the issues of intercultural research in the USA. Since then, the body of intercultural research has blossomed into a multicultural, cultural diversity and human rights 'tree':

As nations strive to harmonise their cultural diversity with a stable and resilient nation-state that adheres to the principles of universal human rights, the use of the 'Tree Model' indicates that some rights are indeed indispensable in a democratic state. These include civic, political and cultural rights, as indicated by the 'trunk' in the 'tree diagram'. The cultural rights, however need not conform to a single pattern, with the 'crown' of the tree assuming different configurations, depending on the cultural traditions of the groups that make the nation and their members' current aspirations (Smolicz, 2005)

Cultural differences

Gillian Khoo (1994) pointed out that it was not sufficient to know cultural differences in intercultural research, and there was a need to discover to what degree such culturally differences could be 'generalised' across culture. In particular, the issues to be addressed in future research include: 'What kinds of roles do perceptions, expectations, and self-fulfilling prophecies about particular out-groups play in intercultural conflict style', and the relationship between gender socialization and cultural values:

As intercultural researchers, it is simply not enough for us to know how and why people differ culturally. We also need to know to what extent such differences can be generalized across situations, and especially to interactions with culturally different individuals. The need for a more global understanding of people, organizations, attitudes, norms, group processes, values, and ways of operating can be enhanced by examining how people interact and transact both among themselves as well as with culturally different individuals (Khoo, 1994).

Globalisation has affected the nature of the debate in intercultural dialogue. It has resulted in structural and qualitative changes in education and policy, including an increasing focus on the 'lifelong learning for all', and a 'cradle-to-grave' metaphor of learning, and the 'knowledge economy' and the global culture:

The impact of globalisation on education policy and reforms is a strategically significant issue for us all... . The evolving and constantly changing notions of national identity, language, border politics and citizenship which are relevant to education policy need to be critiqued by appeal to context specific factors such as local regional national areas, which sit uncomfortably at times with the international imperatives of globalisation…where citizens and consumers are experiencing a growing sense of uncertainty, and loss of flexibility (Sheehan, 2005, p. xi).

Similarly, Stanley Fischer (2001) in his speech 'The Challenge of Globalization in Africa' stressed that 'globalisation' is a multi-faceted concept, containing many important 'economic and social, political and environmental, cultural and religious' dimensions, which affect everyone in some way. As Henry Teune (2002: 8) explains 'globalization has changed the world enough to demand serious re-thinking about comparative social research in our era of globalization'.

The nexus between globalisation, cultural identity, and intercultural dialogue is developed further by Jensen (1998). He advocates that the globalisation process has made the notion of 'cultural identity' one of the most important constructs in intercultural research. Hence, according to him, the real challenge for intercultural research today is to provide 'analytical tools for the practitioners - tools which are developed in relation to the complexity in multiethnic societies'. He also rejects Hall's definition of the primary cultural identity, because it has an important weakness in relation to intercultural communication, which he descries as follows:

It assumes that national identity always will be the primary identity. This means that we have not dissociated ourselves from the intercultural research's underlying reducing way of seeing national culture as the most important explanation in a communication situation (Jensen 1998: 16-19).

Recently, in the discourses of modern identity politics, liberty, democracy and migration it has been suggested that modern liberal societies, having evolved 'beyond identities defined by religion and nation', manifest a 'weak collective identities' and that they suffer from a crisis of identity:

Postmodern elites, especially in Europe, feel that they have evolved beyond identities defined by religion and nation. But if our societies cannot assert positive liberal values, they may be challenged by migrants who are more sure of who they are (Francis Fukuyama, 2007).

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Globalisation, education and the Other

The globalisation processes taking place today are likely to legitimise the unequal distribution of cultural and social capital available. Given that cultural capital is one of the most valuable social commodities, it plays a significant role in social mobility. At the beginning of the 1960s education and policy 'rode on a wave of optimism' and was considered to be a major instrument for 'social change and progress' (Husen, 1980, p. 212). In the 1960s education and policy entered an era of 'scientifically controlled' innovation.

The major paradigm shift of the early 1970s between positivism (empirical/quantitative research) and anti-positivism (non-empirical/qualitative research) began to question THE idea of 'value-free' empirical research and the scientific dominance of empiricism. This paradigm shift reached its heights in the 1980s, as illustrated by post-structuralist and post-modernist education and policy articles. Described as a 'postmodernist revolt' (Mitter, 1997, p. 407) against the dominating theories of the Enlightenment and modernity, such a paradigm shift in policy directions challenged the metanarratives in education and policy, the 'regime of truth', the disciplinary society, and promised to empower the learner, by re-affirming the centrality of the learner in the curriculum, and diversity of learner needs.

Evolving Muslim societies as the Other

Globalisation and the competitive market forces have generated a massive growth in the knowledge industries that are having profound effects on society and educational institutions. From the macro-social perspective it can be argued that in the domains of language, policy, education and national identity, nation-states, including Muslim societies, are likely to lose their power and capacity to affect their future directions, as the struggle for knowledge domination, production, and dissemination becomes a new form of cultural domination, and a knowledge-driven social stratification.

This is particularly relevant to societies, undergoing cultural transformation, including Muslim societies currently experiencing a profound identity and cultural crisis brought on by forces of globalisation and competing ideologies. On one hand, globalisation, with its high tech commodities, science and knowledge, has brought material benefits to some nations. On the other, globalisation, cultural homogeneity and global trade have the power to erode much that Muslim value in their traditional system of beliefs and culture. It seems to represent a clash between tradition and modernity, between Western-driven technoderminism, technology and science, and traditional Islamic spiritual values. Is it possible to overcome this clash of civilisation and overcome a cultural dilemma and reconcile Western post-industrial advances in knowledge and technology with evolving Muslim societies?

Western-driven global culture cannot be rejected, since the benefits of advanced knowledge, science and technology are 'too important to repudiate' (Hurst, 1985). Similarly, Saijid and Ashraf (1979) argued that by rejecting advances in science and teachnology, Muslim societies, would not be able to eradicate inequality, illiteracy, poverty and disease - by faith alone:

Much as the Muslim, anchored in faith, disapproves of the spiritual nihilism of the West, he himself, because of his neglect of science and technology, ahs created around his society a suffocating atmosphere as oppressive as the spiritual sterility of the West (Saijid and Ashraf, 1979, p. 39).

Muslim societies can reconcile Western-driven globalisation of knowledge, technology and culture, as they have a rich historical heritage of scholarship. As Hurst (1985), reminds us, Islam was very much an educational enterprise (Hurst, 1985, 192). Furthermore, it is a tenet of Islam that scholarship and learning is in itself a moral and ethically superior activity, as evidenced by the Quran, Hadith and other sources. The examples include:

The ink of the scholar is even more precious than the blood of martyrs.

Seek knowledge, even if it is in China (see Hurst, 1985, p. 192).

Evolving national identity

The evolving and constantly changing notions of national identity, language, border politics and citizenship, which are relevant to education policy, need to be critiqued within the local-regional-national arena, which is also contested by globalisation. Current education policy research reflects a rapidly changing world, where citizens and consumers are experiencing a growing sense of uncertainty and alienation. Jarvis (2000) comments on the need to "rediscover" one's social identity in active citizenship:

... we can see that citizenship is a problematic concept in a rapidly globalising world... the democratic processes are being overturned and there is an increasing need to rediscover active citizenship in which men and women can work together for the common good, especially for those who are excluded as a result of the mechanisms of the global culture (Jarvis, 2002, p. 295).

The above reflects both growing alienation and a Durkheimian sense of anomie in the world "invaded" by forces of globalisation, cultural imperialism, and global hegemonies that dictate the new economic, political and social regimes of truth. These newly constructed imperatives in educational policy could well operate as global master narratives, playing a hegemonic role within the framework of economic, political and cultural hybrids of globalisation.

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Multidimensional aspect of globalisation

While there is some general consensus on globalisation as a multi-faceted ideological construct defining a convergence of cultural, economic and political dimensions ("global village" now communicates global culture), there are significant differences in discourses of globalisation, partly due to differences of theoretical, ideological, and disciplinary perspectives.

Multidimensional typology of globalisation reflects, in one sense, a more diverse interpretation of culture - the synthesis of technology, ideology, and organisation, specifically border crossings of people, global finance and trade, IT convergence, as well as cross-cultural and communication convergence. In another sense, globalisation as a post-structuralist paradigm invites many competing and contesting interpretations. These include not only ideological interpretations but also discipline-based discourses, which include the notions of the homogenisation and hybridisation of cultures, the growth of social networks that transcend national boundaries supranational organisations, the decline of the nation-state, and the new mode of communication and IT that changes one's notion of time, and space (Zajda, 2005, xix-xxvii).

Post-structuralist discourses are particularly relevant in the Living Together: Education and Intercultural Dialogue theme, and a seemingly teleological search for some answers in creating the good life for all. By opening up the much needed dialogue on national identity, and citizenship it may be possible to re-evaluate cultural relativism and ethnocentrism, democracy and totalitarianism/fundamentalism, thus offering new insights to the on-going dialectics. Current politico-economic and social shifts around the globe, and in the light of Europe's new diversity, increasingly challenge existing notions of identity and citizenship, and compel us to re-think the questions 'Who are we' and 'Why we act the way we act?'

Immigration forces upon us in a particularly acute way discussion of the question 'Who are we?', posed by Samuel Huntington, Jerzy Smolicz and others. In his provocative article, Huntington (1993), predicted a cultural clash of civilization, when he wrote:

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future (Huntington, 1993).

Huntington's hypothesis of the clash of cultures, while provocative, is flawed due to his definition of culture and his conceptual model. He argues that the clash is primarily cultural, rather than ideological or economic, which is a contradiction. Culture, by definition, includes such three core dimensions of society as ideology, organisation (economic systems) and technology. Thus, the culture wars have to be inherently hegemonic and politico-economic. Huntigton's modelling appears to be linear, as it does not appear to reflect the complexity of multidimensional typology of globalization.

If post-industrial and post-modern societies are to move towards a more serious discussion of identity crisis in a global culture, they will need to uncover those positive virtues that define what it means to be a member of the wider society. If they do not, they may be overwhelmed by people who are more sure about who they are (Fukuyama, 2007).

The emergence of cultural synthesis is provided the idea of Leitkultur - the notion that German citizenship entails certain obligations to observe standards of tolerance and equal respect. The term Leitkultur - which means a 'guiding' or 'reference culture', can be employed in intercultural dialogue for living together. Europe has created national identities defined by citizenship, rather than ethnicity and religion. France used its power to homogenize French society. The role of the state in identity politics debate, particularly in the climate of current conflict and terrorism, continues to gain the momentum. Britain, seeking to raise the visibility of national citizenship, has been forced to borrow from both French and American cultural traditions.

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Methodological Issues in Education and Intercultural Dialogue

There are at least three further conceptual and methodological issues that are relevant to current discourses of education and intercultural dialogue. Firstly, there exists an assumption that the term 'intercultural' has a monocultural and linear definition. However, the term "intercultural" is a multi-layered ideal construct, with semantic ambiguities, and refers to a contested and contentious concept concerning levels of perceptions and cross-cultural interpretations of intercultural dialogue.

Secondly, it is taken for granted that intercultural dialogue is indeed possible and can lead to significant socio-political changes in the global culture.

Thirdly, there exist an ambivalent link between social inequality and intercultural dialogue. The greater the social inequality, the less one finds, peace, tolerance and understanding among cultures (Zajda, 2005). The unequal distribution of economic, social, and political capital is likely to make it difficult for pedagogues to address differences and oppressions in schools and society globally (Zajda, 2006a). Some critics argue (Weiler and Maher, 2002) that cultural transformation is difficult to achieve in a global society where social inequality debate is dormant:

Examples of transformative pedagogy, the need to respect and encourage the voices of students, curriculum which critiques popular culture and analyses social inequality are invaluable to prospective teachers. Moreover, progressive programs educating prospective teachers need to include both models of progressive pedagogy and curriculum and courses exploring the historical and contemporary politics of education, to give prospective teachers tools of analysis and action. On the other hand, calls for liberatory teaching can appear to ring hollow notes in under funded and inequitable public schools, where knowledge and teaching practices are increasingly standardized and monitored through high stakes testing...

The creation of a more equitable, tolerant, and peaceful society for everyone on this mere hollow rhetoric, or magic words, unless we debate more vigorously social inequality in the global culture (Zajda, Majhanovich, and Rust 2006b). We need to critique the existing status quo of stratified societies, and cultures:

As numerous educational researchers have documented, existing schools are profoundly unequal, stratified by race and class, and increasingly driven by the standardized testing of students and teachers and the deskilling of teachers through the introduction of packaged curricula geared to standardized tests (Weiler and Maher, 2002).

Finally, there is a need to re-assert the relevance of intercultural dialogue in an increasingly interdependent world. In Understanding Others, Education Ourselves (National Research Council, 2002: 9), it is argued that comparative and international discourses surrounding other cultures, can often lead us to 'identify and question beliefs and assumptions that are taken for granted', by 'making the familiar strange' and the strange familiar', and questioning the 'universality' of our beliefs and assumptions . Informed and balanced intercultural dialogue can help us to define, explain and critique what is achievable, especially within the current imperatives of globalisation.

By focusing on theme Living Together: Education and Intercultural Dialogue globally, I wish to answer one of the most pressing global questions: Are social, economic and cultural divisions between the nations, between school sectors, between schools and between students growing or declining? To answer this question we need to re-examine and re-assess current evidence concerning the nexus between intercultural dialogue, cultural transferability and human rights, and democracy models, education for all, language issues in cross-cultural research and education, dimension of transition and conflict, issues of race and ethnicity in the regional and global cultures, the unresolved tensions between religion, politics, and values education, gender research in the global culture, trends and transformation in teacher education globally, citizenship education and life-long learning, and reforms in higher education in the global economy, and the implications for equity, access and democracy.

We need to critique the overall interplay between intercultural dialogue, education, and the state, expressed by the theme Living Together: Education and Intercultural Dialogue. This can be accomplished by drawing upon recent major and significant studies in the areas of education, intercultural dialogue, and transformational and global pedagogies. By referring to Bourdieu's call for critical policy analysts to engage in a 'critical sociology' of their own contexts of practice, and poststructuralist and postmodernist pedagogy, we need examine how central discourses surrounding the debate of intercultural dialogue and education are formed in the contexts of dominant ideology, power, and culturally and historically derived perceptions and practices.

Conclusion

By focusing on the competing discourses in the theme Living Together: Globalisation, Education and Intercultural Dialogue we need to evaluate critically both the reasons and outcomes of dominant ideologies, education reforms, and policy change, with respect to intercultural dialogue in the global culture. The concept Living Together: Education and Intercultural Dialogue could be seen as a means for delivering an authentic and empowering paradigm of peace, tolerance and harmony in the world, and provide a more informed and compelling critique of the place of the Other in the Western-driven models of intercultural dialogue, surrounding identity politics, liberty and democracy.

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