IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Global learning and skills for global social change

17 December 2018, 6:00 pm–7:15 pm

Douglas Bourn, Professorial Lectures

The relationship between learning and social change has been a repeated theme in the work of leading thinkers on education over the past century, from John Dewey to Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux.

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Kate Thomas


Jeffery Hall
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

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There has been an assumption that a more informed and educated citizenry will result in a more democratic society. Within the UK these ideas have threaded through the work of youth organisations as well as political parties.

In more recent decades they have also underpinned international initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have seen a linkage between learning and securing a more globally socially just society through areas such as combating poverty, education for all and greater sexual equality.

A major theme of development education in the UK from 2000 to 2010 was around promoting understanding of these Development Goals. The SDGs are global goals and equally relevant to the UK as they are to say countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Bourn addresses these themes using examples from his own professional career and research, concluding with discussion of his newly published book Understanding Global Skills for 21st Century Professions.

This takes us through the policies of the Labour Party in the first half of the twentieth century, in which the idea of education for democracy and socialism was a prominent feature, and the activities and aims of the radical voluntary youth organisation, the Woodcraft Folk. Professor Bourn examines the pedagogical basis for these movements for education and social change, and connects their impetus back to the work of Paulo Freire. He then considers them alongside movements for education and global social justice, with which he has been centrally involved as founder, in 1993, of the Development Education Association and, in 2006, of the Development Education Research Centre (DERC) at the Institute of Education.

In concluding his lecture Professor Bourn discusses themes that relate directly to current social and political debates concerning education, citizenship and social justice, including the rise of fake news and the possible dangers posed by Brexit. He argues that we urgently need a more prominent discussion about the social purpose of education and the relationship of learning and skills to securing more globally just societies.

Lecture respondent: Dr Mary Stiasny, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) and Chief Executive of University of London Worldwide.

The IOE Professorial Public Lecture series

Our series of professorial public lectures provides an opportunity to celebrate and share the expertise of our professors. This series showcases the cutting-edge research taking place at the IOE. They are free to attend and open to all. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

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About the Speaker

Professor Douglas Bourn

Professor Douglas Bourn is Co-Director of the Development Education Research Centre (DERC) at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), which he established in 2006. He has written extensively on themes such as global perspectives within education, global dimensions in formal education and global youth work.

More about Professor Douglas Bourn