Urban and school segregation in cities result in diversification of the actual educational environments, where children study and spend their time in urban schools. Especially in (lower-)secondary education the levels of school segregation have increased in the capital areas of Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands. How about in (pre-)primary schools? Mixed classes And Pedagogical Solutions (MAPS) intends to offer a comparative view on policies and practices of inclusion in (pre-)primary education.
The project will approach educational inclusion from a holistic and an intersectional perspective highlighting ethnicity, social class, gender, and educational needs when comparing the three cities: Helsinki, Reykjavik and Amsterdam. The proposed study contributes to the research literature dealing with social justice in education, policies and practices of ethnic and social mixing, mixed ability-grouping and learning, and teachers' pedagogical solutions in socially diverse educational environments. Given that pupils educational experiences contribute mightily to societal cohesion and stability via socialising, discussion of such arrangements culminate in questions about teaching children with different social backgrounds and educational needs together or separately; whether to introduce socially segregating policies and practices, or to promote inclusive education.
This comparative study aims to provide in-depth understanding on how the policies and practices of inclusion are formulated (macro), interpreted (meso) and articulated (micro) in the everyday-life in schools with socially and educationally mixed pupil compositions. The main research question is, how are different policies and processes of inclusion embedded and applied in socially, ethnically and educationally mixed (pre-)primary schools in Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands, and what are their social and pedagogical implications in the everyday-practices in schools? The analysis is constructed on literature review, policy-analysis, quantitative analysis on existing register data, and school ethnographies. The main hypothesis is that the policies of inclusive education remain relative and are articulated and implemented in local contexts in such ways that the simultaneous investigation of educational policies, local and school-level grouping practices, and class-room cultures is required in order to grasp the different manifestations of inclusive education, which may contribute to socially just education.
Although conceptually influential and robust empirically, the field of Urban Political Ecology has, thus far, focused mainly on traditional cities and the way these have been metabolically linked and networked with resource flows and ecological processes. Questions of climate change, resilience and smart urbanization have recently become part of these discussions, and the New Urban Agenda adopted by the UN Habitat 2016 conference confirmed the centrality of cities in addressing policy challenges around climate change. However, as fellow researchers Angelo and Wachsmuth (2015) have recently quipped in an influential paper, the question “why does everybody think cities can save the world” still requires a qualified conceptually robust and empirically substantiated answer. Kaika (2017) has recently argued that the importance of focusing on cities needs to be coupled by a caution of avoiding the trap of seeking purely technical solutions for socio-ecological problems faced in today’s urban regions.
A key question arises from these recent debates: How can we mobilize the tradition of landscape ecology and urban political ecology to face the environmental challenges of an increasingly a suburban planet? We propose to take up this challenge with particular focus on the new suburban forms and processes that have been identified through the 'Global Suburbanisms' (MCRI) project in order to address the following key questions:
What are the ecological consequences of “extended urbanization”, “postsuburbanization” and simply “sprawl”? (How) can suburban forms and processes – often considered prime contributors to climate change – contribute to abatement and adaptation?
With the above framework and questions in focus, a workshop was held in Amsterdam in February 2019, hosted by Professor Roger Keil and Professor Maria Kaika, leading experts in Urban Political Ecology. The workshop brought together a small group of MCRI associated researchers and guests who are leading experts in the field of UPE and climate change policy to lay out a plan for a larger follow-up research project on the theme of suburban political ecologies (SPEs). This research is conceptual and theoretical as we continue to decentre the core-oriented UPE; but it also engages empirical research in Europe, Africa, China, India, Australia and North America.
In February 2020 our team (Tzaninis, Mandler, Kaika and Keil) published our paper 'Moving Urban Political Ecology beyond the 'Urbanization of Nature'' on Progress in Human Geography: link