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Institute of Education

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Q&A with Professor Hugh Starkey

1  What attracted you to take up your position at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE)?
I was appointed to devise and develop an online MA in Citizenship and History Education (University of London International Programmes). This appealed as I was running a PGCE Citizenship course at the University of Leicester and I had also worked on course development at the Open University.

2  Which UCL graduate programmes do you contribute to in the 2018/19 academic year?
I supervise a number of students from the Centre for Doctoral Education and I also work with the Education (Citizenship) MA. I lead a strand of the UCL Global Citizenship Programme and I teach a module called Education, Values and Society.

3  How has being in London and/or at UCL in particular benefited you?
The great thing about the IOE being in London is that everyone who is anyone in education passes through the city at one time or another and there are opportunities to meet and work with great international experts. The IOE also has some great partnerships and I have personally benefitted from our links with Madison, Melbourne and Beijing particularly.

4  How long have you been at the IOE and what was your previous role?
I came in 2004 and my role has evolved from being primarily focused on online education to building up an international group of doctoral students, all of them working in some way on citizenship and human rights education.

5  What do you most enjoy about your position and why?
I enjoy working with outstanding academic colleagues and doctoral students. There is a strong international dimension to my work and I very much appreciate building and developing institutional links. Beijing Normal University is currently a focus of my attention as we have organised the sixth biennial joint conference for 2017, on "Education and Mobilities: Ideas, People and Technologies". I think networking is hugely important in academic life and so I like attending conferences, particularly the huge AERA conference in the USA.

6 What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Soon after arriving I co-founded the International Centre for Education and Democratic Citizenship (ICEDC) with a colleague from Birkbeck, University of London. Over the past dozen years we have organised an annual conference, the 11th edition of which is in 2017. We have also attracted many leading scholars to give lectures and seminars. The word international in the title is not just for show, our partners and presenters really are from all over the world.

7  What is the focus of your research and what benefits do you hope your discoveries and/or insights will bring?
My research basically addresses the question of how we learn to live together. Democracy is a concept based on the assumption that all are entitled to participate on the basis that they have equal rights and equal dignity. Human rights are the international standards that underpin this. Democracy implies that everyone is different and that we hold different opinions and views of the world.

How do we then learn to live together? This is a crucial question for schools as well as for the wider society. The answers require understandings of politics, law, economics, history and sociology, for example, as well as pedagogy. It requires insights from many academic disciplines and this provides considerable intellectual and practical challenge.