This page describes the projects of the group which have external funding.

CS-LEARN is a consortium project between the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Oulu. The consortium connects two groups: the research group on Civil Society and Citizenship in Development ( CitDe ) led by PI, Academy of Finland Research Fellow Tiina Kontinen at the University of Jyväskylä (JYU), and the Theory and Philosophy of Education Research Group ( TheorEd) led by the leader of the sub-project, Prof. Katariina Holma at the University of Oulu. It expands the team’s ongoing research project Growth into Citizenship in Civil Society Encounters (GROW) (AoF 2015-2019), which explores ideas of citizenships in NGO-interventions and among community members in Tanzania and Uganda in connection with a notion of learning as growth based on philosophical pragmatism and especially the work of John Dewey.

While it is widely agreed that transformative development require competent citizens able to organize in civil society spaces, less is known about the complexities related to learning to be a citizen. The development research literature has indicated gaps between development ideals and contextual lives experiences, and thus, has motivated the team to explore both the localized conceptions and theoretical conceptualizations. The project scrutinizes the theories, practices and experiences of learning to be a citizen in civil society with case studies in Tanzania and Uganda. CS-LEARN combines research groups with complementary expertise in development research and educational philosophy from the Universities of Oulu and Jyväskylä, and partners with adult education in Makerere University, Uganda and development studies at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

To reach the overall objective of developing a theory of learning to be a citizen in civil society the project aims to: 1) identify and compare definitions, conceptualizations and manifestations of a “good citizen” in theories, CSO practices and experiences; 2) identify and compare conceptualizations, descriptions, and experiences of processes of learning to be a citizen in theories, CSO agendas and participation processes. The consortium applies a combination of three methodologies: a) rational reconstruction of philosophical and educational theories; b) ethnography of CSO-interventions and everyday participation in Uganda and Tanzania with specific focus on self-help and religious groups; and c) critical action research among women groups in marginalized areas. Research material will comprise of selected theories of education and related philosophical literature, observations, documents, interviews and participatory exercises with community members and CSOs.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland's Programme for Development Research, and it includes capacity-building of African partner universities through joint research seminars and methodology courses with practice period in communities. The project pays special attention to building of research capacity by enabling working periods for African postdocs in Finnish Universities.

The academic outcomes contribute to contemporary theory of citizens’ education and to literatures of contextualized citizenship and civil society in development research. Societal impact will be enabled by the creation of theoretical tools for designing civil society interventions for reaching the transformative development outlined in Agenda2030.

The project contributes to the construction of a novel theoretical framework for citizenship education in the contemporary pluralizing, globalizing and digitalizing world. It studies and develops the philosophical foundations of citizenship education by focusing especially on 1) critical abilities necessary for evaluating different ideologies 2) emotional abilities necessary for encountering differences and 3) the new forms of citizen participation in the era of digitalization and social media. It analyzes the conceptions of rationality and morality in the philosophical theories and brings them into dialogue with recent empirical research results. It draws conceptual tools, among other sources, from the framework of philosophical pragmatism and contemporary discussion on non-ideal theories. The project also develops research methodology that combines empirical and philosophical research in a methodologically sound manner, in order to construct a novel theoretical framework for citizenship education. This project is funded by the University of Oulu as one of the spearhead projects of the strategic focus area Understanding Humans in Change from 2018 to 2021.

Growth into citizenship in civil society encounters ("GROW") is a consortium project which combines the expertise of development ethnography and philosophical pragmatism and joins the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Oulu (University of Eastern Finland in 2015-2016). The project collaborates with the Makerere University in Uganda, and the University of Dodoma in Tanzania. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland from 2015 to 2019.

The main objective is to develop a new theoretical framework of growth into citizenship for development research in dialogue with philosophical pragmatism and development ethnography. This objective is divided into three subtasks: 1) to investigate the theoretical conditions of growth into citizenship in the context of philosophical pragmatism; 2) to explore the processes of growth into citizenship in the encounters within civil society development interventions in selected cases in Uganda and Tanzania ; and 3) to experiment with methodology where pragmatism informs ethnography and ethnographic findings facilitate the construction of new theory. In the dialogical methodology used, pragmatism informs the fieldwork focus and the ethnographic findings contribute to the theory development. Each case provides a vignette of changing citizenships interpreted through John Dewey’s notion of learning as growth, in the context of value pluralism, and citizenship mainly conceptualized as learned abilities and habits of participation. Moreover, the construction and negotiation of the notion of citizenship is investigated within the contexts of civil society interventions explicitly addressing citizenship. The areas of interests include different perceptions of citizenship and their transformations along the negotiations, characteristics of different societal contexts, different patterns of social memberships, and political peculiarities of African political societies, as well as their potential implications to the conceptual understandings will be examined. More information in .

Reforming the Theory of Citizenship Education (2013-2016)

The research project produced new theoretical understanding in relation to the philosophical conditions, possibilities, and justificatory principles of education in the pluralizing societies of the global era. The project was funded by the Kone Foundation and the University of Helsinki Research Funds.

The project produced two doctoral dissertations:

Anniina Leiviskä’s article-based doctoral dissertation (2016) Hans-Georg Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of Education: Beyond Modernism and Postmodernism examined the relevance of Gadamer’s hermeneutics to the philosophy of education and especially to the modernism-postmodernism controversy that arose in the field in the 1990s. The three individual studies of the thesis particularly focused on the Gadamerian concepts of dialogical rationality and the truth of the subject matter (die Sache selbst), which represent an attempt to redefine the educationally central notions of rationality and truth from a historically situated and postfoundationalist perspective. It is suggested in the thesis that through these concepts, Gadamer's hermeneutics can provide education with orienting ideals and principles for the philosophical critique of educational practices without jeopardizing the hermeneutical awareness of the historicity and contextuality of knowledge. The thesis concludes that Gadamer’s hermeneutics can offer a more defensible warrant for educational theory and practice than that provided by the modern and postmodern philosophies of education discussed in the thesis. Consequently, it also contributes to the movement beyond the unproductive modernism-postmodernism dichotomy in the philosophy of education.

In Hanna-Maija Huhtala’s article-based doctoral dissertation Educational Insights into the notions of Reason, Morality and Autonomy: Theodor W. Adornos Critical Theory, Huhtala examines the connections and underlying tensions of the educationally important notions of reason, morality and autonomy from the viewpoint of Theodor W. Adorno’s critical theory. The main findings of the doctoral dissertation suggest that conceiving reason in more materialistic terms enables more nuanced understanding of the moral agency and autonomy that is required in the complex and fragmentary contemporary society. The dissertation further sheds light on the importance of including the manifold psychological dimensions in the examination and conceptualizations of morality and autonomy.

Selected publications of the project:

  • Holma, K. (2015a) “The Critical Spirit: Emotional and Moral Dimensions of Critical Thinking,” Studier i Pædagogisk Filosofi, 4(1), 17-28.

  • Holma, K. (2013) “Kriittinen ajattelu kasvatuspäämääränä” [Critical Thinking as an Educational Ideal] Niin & Näin [One Hand & Other Hand], 3(2013): 97-103.

  • Holma, K. & Huhtala, H.-M. (2014) ”Non-Idealizing the Theory of Autonomy: Theodor W. Adorno’s Psychological and Political Critique of Immanuel Kant” Philosophy of Education: The yearbook 2014. Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society: 373-381.

  • Huhtala, H.-M. (2017) “Morality, Culture and the Educational Stigmata of Capitalism” SATS Northern European Journal of Philosophy, forthcoming.

  • Huhtala, H.-M. (2016) “Finding Educational Insights in Psychoanalytic Theory with Marcuse and Adorno” Journal of Philosophy of Education, 50(4): p. 689-704.

  • Leiviskä, A. (2013) “Finitude, Fallibilism and Education towards Non-dogmatism: Gadamer’s Hermeneutics in Science Education,” Educational Philosophy and Theory 45(5), 516–530.

  • Leiviskä, A. (2015) “Gadamer’s Dialogical Rationality: A Defence against Two Postmetaphysical Critiques,” in G. Figal (ed.) International Yearbook for Hermeneutics, Volume 14 / Internationales Jahrbuch für Hermeneutik, Band 14 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck), 281–304.

  • Leiviskä, A. (2015) “The Relevance of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Concept of Tradition to the Philosophy of Education,” Educational Theory 65(5), 581–600.

Educational Theory and Traditions (2010-2014)

This research project funded by the Academy of Finland built a dialogical connection in educational philosophy between the German Bildung theoretical research tradition and the American thought of educational theory based on pragmatism. In our research we developed a pedagogical theory constructing a bridge and integration between Bildung theories and theory of growth developed in the continental (German) philosophy of education and in American pragmatism.

The main product of the project was the book: Siljander, P., Kivelä, A., & Sutinen, A. (eds.). (2012) Theories of Bildung and Growth: Connections and Controversies between Continental Educational Thinking and American Pragmatism. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. (