The 2nd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation! The Conversation will be held virtually in Zoom. Time: September 23rd, 2021, 3-5 p.m. CET. You are hereby invited to participate in an exciting educational conversation (free of charge). Please, click here to register (it is mandatory to register!)

The Annual Conversation will be held in English and is connected to NERA’s journal Nordic Studies in Education (NSE). Note that this is not a traditional conference or seminar. Conversations and dialogues are in the heart of this forum, which sustain conversations taking place in full courtesy and kindness, where the participants manage to have fruitful discussions on the chosen theme and, if possible, engage in projects that reach to a wider audience. The aim is that these conversations will lead to articles and special issues of NSE.  

Topic for this year’s conversation: 

Is there such a thing as a distinct Nordic dimension in education?


John Benedicto Krejsler, Professor at Aarhus University and President of the Nordic Educational Research Association


Paul Adams, Senior Lecturer University of Strathclyde, Glasgow


The Nordic dimension in education – between myth and reality

John Benedicto Krejsler

Is there such a thing as a Nordic dimension? What is it that unites five small countries on the northern edge of the European continent? (Andersen et al., 2007; Buchardt, Markkola, & Valtonen, 2013; Krejsler, 2020)

It is evident that each of the small Nordic countries is highly appreciative of the critical mass that the other countries, with similar – but far from identical – school and education systems and values, offer (Imsen, Blossing, & Moos, 2017; Krejsler & Moos, 2021b; Telhaug, Mediås, & Aasen, 2006). Many researchers thus express that it is often difficult to go ‘international’ in an educational world dominated largely by Anglo-American standards, procedures and values: (1) You have to appeal to ‘myths’ about the Nordic welfare states, progressive pedagogy, gender and social equity; or (2) your research is not easily translatable to an Anglophone audience with central terms like ‘pedagogik’, ‘Bildung’, ‘didaktik’ and so forth (Krejsler & Moos, 2021a)

Is the Nordic dimension exclusive to the existing five Nordic countries, including the Åland Islands, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Sápmi? In one sense, yes, based on centuries of shared cultural and historic experiences; in another sense, no. The Nordic dimension reaches out to our Baltic neighbors. Similar partnerships have arisen with the Scottish and the Irish educational research associations.

The Nordic dimension resists being defined once and for all. In NERA we have thus agreed on English as the official language of the Congress, in order to include all of our Nordic colleagues. On the other hand, Scandinavian languages do occupy an important place, as they are mutually intelligible and include experience that has been historically amassed. Excluding the use of Scandinavian languages would make it difficult to gather the critical mass to explore and translate educational terms (like ‘bildning’, ‘didaktik’ or ‘pedagogik’) and the contexts that they represent into English for a larger international context.

Perhaps it is a trait of Nordic pragmatism that we continue to debate the language issue with intense passion whilst agreeing, implicitly, that it remains at best an issue that can never – and should never – be resolved?


Andersen, T. M., Holmström, B., Honkapohja, S., Korkman, S., Söderström, H. T., & Vartiainen, J. (2007). The Nordic Model: Embracing globalization and sharing risks. Helsinki: The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA) [Taloustieto Oy].

Buchardt, M., Markkola, P., & Valtonen, H. (2013). Introduction: Education and the Making of the Nordic Welfare States. In M. Buchardt, P. Markkola, & H. Valtonen (Eds.), Education, State and Citizenship (pp. 7-30). Helsinki: University of Helsinki.

Imsen, G., Blossing, U., & Moos, L. (2017). Reshaping the Nordic education model in an era of efficiency: Changes in the comprehensive school project in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden since the millennium. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 61(5), 568-583.

Krejsler, J. B. (2020). The Nordic Educational Research Association, the Nordic Dimension and Challenges of Open Access: President’s opening speech at NERA’s 48th Congress in Turku (Editorial). Nordic Studies in Education, 40(2), 98-102. doi:

Krejsler, J. B., & Moos, L. (2021a). Danish – and Nordic – school policy: its Anglo-American connections and influences. In J. B. Krejsler & L. Moos (Eds.), What Works in Nordic School Policies? Mapping Approaches to Evidence, Social Technologies and Transnational Influences Cham (CH): Springer.

Krejsler, J. B., & Moos, L. (Eds.). (2021b). What Works in Nordic School Policies? Mapping Approaches to Evidence, Social Technologies and Transnational Influences Cham (CH): Springer.

Telhaug, A. O., Mediås, O. A., & Aasen, P. (2006). The Nordic Model in Education: Education as part of the political system in the last 50 years. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 50(3), 245-283.


15.00 – 15.10: Welcome and some practical matters (Michael Dal & Herner Saeverot). 

15.10 – 15.25: Introduction by John Benedicto Krejsler, The Nordic dimension in education – between myth and reality

15.25-15.35: Response to Krejsler’s presentation by Paul Adams

15.35 – 16.00: Breakout session 1 – Discussion about the introduction.

16.00 – 16.05: A little technical pause establishing breakout rooms. 

16.05 – 16.30:  Breakout session 2- Further discussion about the introduction 

16.30 – 16.50: Plenum discussion 

16.50 – 17.00:  Thank you for today and closure.

We hope to see you and discuss with you in September!

Best regards,

Eva Hultin, Michael Dal and Herner Sæverot

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