Invitation to Special Issue of Nordic Studies in Education

Invitation to Special Issue of Nordic Studies in Education: The Nordic dimension in education – between myth and reality.

Following up on the 2nd Annual Nordic Educational Conversation we hereby invite proposals for a special issue of Nordic Studies in Education focusing on what constitutes the Nordic dimension in education.

Selection for the special issue will prioritize quality of abstracts in relation to the theme as well as representation from a diversity of perspectives and different Nordic countries in order to comprehensively cover the theme.

The special issue poses and elaborates upon the question whether there is such a thing as a Nordic dimension in education? And, in the affirmative, what is it that unites and divides the five small countries on the northern edge of the European continent, and how does that come to expression in educational terms (Andersen et al., 2007; Buchardt, Markkola, & Valtonen, 2013; Krejsler, 2020)?

When did the Nordic dimension in education start? What are its historical roots? Do they go back to the times of the Kalmar Union of 1397, or even further back? Is it an imagined community of a national-romantic kind that takes off with the movement of Scandinavism in the mid-19th century? Or, is it rather the result of pragmatic political, economic and cultural collaborations on many fronts in the post-WW2 era that are connected to similar visions and programs of the Nordic Social-Democratic Welfare State (Hilson, 2008; Rinne & Kivinen, 2003; Telhaug, Mediås, & Aasen, 2006; Tjeldvoll, 1998)?

The Nordic dimension comes to expression in loosely coupled institutionalizations like the Nordic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers, NordForsk as well as in collaborations like the Nordic Educational Research Association. But it also exists in large numbers of less formal or informal collaborations like friendship towns, exchange of students, networks among teachers, researchers, administrators, political parties and so forth. And it exists in what might be called the Nordic gaze, i.e., when the PISA (OECD), TIMSS, PIRLS and ICCS (IEA) surveys are published, then the Nordic public and policy-makers are mainly interested in how their students and countries perform in relation to the other Nordic countries (Jónasson, Bjarnadóttir, & Ragnarsdóttir, 2021). 

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 (Blossing, Imsen, & Moos, 2016; Elstad, 2020; Krejsler & Moos, 2021b; Skagen, 2006; Telhaug et al., 2006). Many Nordic educational 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’, ‘dannelse’, ‘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, for instance, 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.

We ask contributors to reflect upon this complex of discourse and practice that we call the Nordic dimension – or at times even the Nordic Model – in relation to how it affects, frames and sets direction for school, education and educational research. This could involve issues like:

  • Is there a particular Nordic understanding of education in terms of didactics, Bildung and so forth?
  • In comparative terms, how are school and teacher education programs similar or different in Nordic countries?
  • Are social welfare, gender equality and social equity issues that have a particular flavor in Nordic countries, and how does that affect ways of thinking, organizing and practicing education?
  • Are there particularly Nordic ways of dealing with the transnational collaborations and inspirations that have since the 1990ies increasingly affected education?
  • Does Nordic educational research in its diverse forms offer particular contributions to advance educational research in a European or global perspective?

Manuscripts may be written in English or one of the Scandinavian languages.

Submit an abstract of max. 300 words (excl. references) to by February 1, 2021.
Response from guest editor by March 1, 2022.
Manuscript delivery by June 15, 2022.
Review till September 1, 2022.
Final manuscript delivery by December 1, 2022.  
Publication: Vol. 43, No. 1, 2023

Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the journal’s Author Guidelines, here:

Manuscripts should be submitted through the journal’s online submission system, here:

Kind regards,
John Benedicto Krejsler, Professor at Aarhus University and President of the Nordic Educational Research Association
Guest Editor of the Special Issue


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

Blossing, U., Imsen, G. & Moos, L. (Eds.). (2016). The Nordic education model: ‘A school for all’ encounters neo-liberal policy. Springer.

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). University of Helsinki.

Elstad, E. (Ed.) (2020). Lærerutdanning i nordiske land. Universitetsforlaget.

Hilson, M. (2008). The Nordic model: Scandinavia since 1945. Reaktion Books.

Jónasson, J. T., Bjarnadóttir, V. S. & Ragnarsdóttir, G. (2021). Evidence and accountability in Icelandic education – an historical perspective? In J. B. Krejsler & L. Moos (Eds.), What works in Nordic school policies? Mapping approaches to evidence, social technologies and transnational influences. Springer.

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.

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. Springer.

Rinne, R. & Kivinen, O. (2003). The Nordic welfare state model and European Union educational policies. In P. Rasmussen (Ed.), Educational policy and the global social order (pp. 23-42). Aalborg University, Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Learning.

Skagen, K. (2006). Lärarutbildningen i Norden. HLS Förlag.

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.

Tjeldvoll, A. (1998). Education and the Scandinavian welfare state in the year 2000: Equality, policy and reform. Garland Publishing.

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