Transnational Education: Teaching and Learning across Borders

Sylvia Kesper-Biermann, Hamburg; Maggi Leung, Utrecht; Vanaja Nethi, Fort Lauderdale; Thusinta Somalingam, Mainz
Sylvia Kesper-Biermann

Guest editors Sylvia Kesper-Biermann, Maggi Leung, Vanaja Nethi, and Thusinta Somalingam invite you to submit proposal abstracts on the focus topic “Transnational Education: Teaching and Learning across Borders” of the journal “Transnational Social Review – A Social Work Journal” (TSR) to be published in summer 2018.

Educational programs of transnational providers, which issue transnationally recognized certificates, cross-border education processes of (mobile) people, their learning processes and acquisition of qualifications (Adick 2005) are referred to as characteristics of Transnational Education (TNE). Universities, schools, as well as educational/professional training institutions collaborate across borders, developing close networks that are independent of national boundaries. Convergences in learning and teaching are increasing. Immaterial (i.e. teaching methods, knowledge) elements and human resources, whether mobile or immobile (i.e. teachers, students), engender a border-transcending educational landscape. Transnationalisation thus permeates all educational dimensions and levels (primary, secondary, tertiary, professional). While formal education, especially higher education, has been often discussed in transnational studies and education, informal education, i.e. organisations of migrants, non-governmental institutions, missionary schools etc. are less often a topic of research. Education and social work, defined as professions and a practice which seek to facilitate the well-being of individuals and collectives, mesh in a special way in this sector. TNE can empower the education receivers. Beyond certificates the receivers get social and moral support by the collective and gain social, cultural, symbolic and economic capital (Bourdieu 1986). However, this is not a one way flow as the TNE provider institutions receive benefits as well. TNE is situated in a dichotomic setting i.e. of teaching/learning and capacity building/receiving, which is shaped by the intrinsically uneven nature of education determined by geography, ethnicity, class and/or gender (Bourdieu). TNE not only offers new opportunities for the education recipients and providers, but it is also confronted with challenging circumstances, frictions and conflicts. As a consequence, new duties and challenges are also emerging for the social work sector itself.

These developments play an increasingly significant role in the global arena, complementing or even replacing traditional education and schooling that has been dominated since the 19th century by state control and state legitimation. However, “border transcending dimensions in education” (Hornberg 2014) are not entirely new phenomena. The colonial period for example saw a high demand for, and trend towards, delivering national and religious oriented education from the metropolis to the colonies. Historical studies describe transnational structures and processes as an immanent character of colonialism. They also analyse processes of transnational educational lending and borrowing and cultural transfer.

This focus topic of TSR on “Transnational Education: Teaching and Learning across Borders” seeks to provide insights into developments in border-crossing education in past and present times. It considers the forms, contents and strategies of TNE from several perspectives: actors and agents, institutional, socio-cultural and historical. The overall intention is to highlight various TNE aspects and phenomena and their relevance and implications especially with regard to social work. This issue aims to map the providers, environments and practices in the TNE field and seeks to understand the different TNE actors.

We welcome proposals from a range of academic fields – Education, Scholasticism, History of Education, Social Work, Transnationalism and Diaspora Studies, Migration Studies, Cultural Studies, Political Science and other related disciplines.

We invite both empirical and theoretical papers that relate but might not be limited to one or more of the following foci:

1. Theorizing TNE: How can TNE be conceptualized analytically? How can existing concepts, theories and approaches be examined from a critical perspective?

2. Methodologies and Methods on TNE: Which research designs emerge in transnational research on processes and phenomena in this educational field? What is the shape of current innovative research designs and what are the challenges?

3. Research on the Micro-, Meso- and Macro-level of TNE:
Micro: What are the relevance and implications of TNE for the actors involved (students, teachers, administrators, organizations)? How do the social and cultural elements of the actors shape their respective TNE? What kind of values and convictions can be found in the TNE field? Meso: Who provides TNE? How is the TNE environment designed (practices, programs, networks, materials etc.)? What are the aims of TNE providers? Macro: What are the implications and/or consequences for the national labour, education and social work sector? What conflicts, frictions and fragmentations emerge?

Each proposal abstract should contain no more than 500 words and should address the following: background of the proposed article; content outline; and main discussion points.

Deadline for submission of abstracts is May 31, 2017. For those proposals that are accepted the deadline for submission of full articles is August 31, 2017.

Articles should be up to 7,000 words in length, they should include an abstract of up to 150 words, and up to six keywords, suitable for indexing and online search purposes.

Inquiries and proposals should be sent to the guest editors:
Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kesper-Biermann, Faculty of Education, University of Hamburg,

Dr. Maggi Leung, Human Geography and Planning - Social Urban Transitions, University Utrecht,

Dr. Vanaja Nethi, Abraham S. Fischler College of Education, Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale,

Dr. Thusinta Somalingam, Institute of Education, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz,


Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kesper-Biermann

Universität Hamburg, Fakultät für Erziehungswissenschaft, Professur für Historische Bildungsforschun
Von-Melle-Park 8, 20146 Hamburg

Transnational Education: Teaching and Learning across Borders, 31.05.2017 -, in: H-Soz-Kult, 21.04.2017, <>.
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