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Pays : Suède  Langue(s) : anglais 

ISCOD 2023 - International Symposium on Comparative Didactics

Date :  du 02-06-2023 au 02-06-2023

Appel à communications ouvert jusqu'au :  17-08-2022

Lieu :  Örebro University

Modalité :  présentiel

Organisation : 

The symposium provides a unique opportunity for researchers in the emerging field of comparative didactics to meet across national, cultural, and disciplinary borders, and to initiate collective and individual projects. Whether conceptual or empirical, research in comparative didactics relates teaching and learning to curricular documents and to various societal and cultural matters. While subject didactics has several active networks, there are few meeting points for scholars in comparative didactics. Featuring state of the art keynotes, the suggested conference is designed to become a starting point for the development of a comprehensive communication infrastructure for European researchers in comparative didactics.

Programme : 

The first International Symposium on Comparative Didactics (ISCOD) will be held at Örebro University on January 11 and 12, 2023. The event will alternate biannually between the universities of Örebro, Mälardalen, and Karlstad. The objective of the symposium is to initiate research in comparative didactics that can help understand the relation between different subject didactics and other parts of the educational system.

By juxtaposing pedagogical philosophies, curriculum structures, and teaching traditions from different parts of the world, different subjects, or different historical eras, the symposium is designed to become a catalyst in the emerging field of comparative didactics. It aims to accelerate the internationalization of the field and help scholars identify new theoretical vantage points and transfer methodology between school subjects, as well as between various national and cultural spaces. The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach aims to uncover latent yet productive links between didactics and other research fields.

ISCOD 2023 features inspiring keynote lectures from Florence Ligozat, Jonas Almqvist, Chantal Amade-Escot, and Inger Eriksson who will each introduce one aspect of comparative didactics. Florence Ligozat is Professor of Comparative Didactics at the University of Geneva. She has functioned as chair of ARCD (se below) and has published extensively on didactical concepts and frameworks relating to Mathematics and other subjects. Jonas Almqvist is professor of Didactics at Uppsala university and head of department. He also manages the research group Studies of Comparative Didactics. His most recent publications deal, for instance, with different teaching traditions in science teaching and with the didactical dilemmas of sustainable development. Chantal Amade-Escot is professor of Pedagogy (sciences de l’éducation) at the University of Toulouse, France. She has published extensively on gender didactics, difficult school environments, and physical education. Inger Eriksson is professor of Pedagogy at Stockholm university, Sweden, and head of department. Her research concerns, for instance, student assessment and subject specific learning activities. She has also developed methods for collaborative research including schoolteachers. Scholars in comparative didactics from all over the world are invited to present papers that use comparative methodology to study aspects of teaching and learning within any school subjects from primary school to upper secondary school. (See call-pdf.)

Without excluding other segments of comparative didactics, the organizers suggest that contributions relate different aspects of learning to one or several of the following themes:

  • The impact of curricular reforms
  • Literary canons
  • Technical innovation and new media
  • Migration and multilinguistic school environments
  • Cultural (in)translatability
  • The inherent principles and ideologies of various educational systems, pedagogical traditions, and didactical mindsets
  • Postcolonial perspectives on African, Caribbean, or South-Asian education systems and teaching practices
  • Privatization, charter schools, and market-driven strategies
  • The implementation of sustainable development and human rights policies
  • Religion and laicity

As the diversity of this list of topics suggests, comparative didactics is a transdisciplinary field.

Before further developing the possible interfaces to other research fields or describing the different aspects of comparativeness, it appears necessary to frame what is meant by the term didactics. The exact meaning of didactics has been subject to contention; anglophone scholars have used other labels for similar kinds of research, such as curriculum studies (Gundem and Hopmann 1998). The Germanophone, Francophone, and Scandinavian communities have also used it differently (Gundem 2011).

The organizers of ISCOD 2023 define didactics as research relating to the teaching and learning of contents and subjects defined by official curricula. Thus, researchers in didactics may study texts, institutions, and phenomena inside and outside the classroom, yet the object of study must be connected to learning in schools. Much research in didactics has been conducted subject by subject, a tradition called didactiques disciplinaires in French and Fachdidaktik in German (Schneuwly 2014). Alongside this tradition, here labelled subject didactics for want of better translations, more interdisciplinary or multi-subject-oriented research was conducted particularly in francophone Europe. In this tradition, the findings of subject didactics were compared and contextualized. A pioneering article, published in 2002 by the French-Swiss trio Alain Mercier, Maria Luisa Schubauer-Leoni, and Gérard Sensevy, strongly argued for more comparative approaches. First, they pointed to the possibility of using comparative methods within existing research fields. Also, they highlighted the potential of conducting research on the interface between different kinds of didactics. Finally, they emphasized the potential of incorporating humanistic and sociological perspectives (Mercier et al. 2002).

The purpose of including other disciplines than those traditionally associated with didactics was not to expand the scope of didactic research, but to facilitate analyses of the relation between the theories and methods used, thereby uncovering patterns and problems that subject didactics had missed. Even if methodological and analytical problems cannot be resolved, the mere fact that they are identified can trigger epistemological discussions which improve the field of didactics as a whole (Schnubauer-Leoni and Leutenegger 1997).

In 2006 L’Association pour les Recherches Comparatistes en Didactique (ARCD) was created in France, marking one of the early milestones of comparative didactics. A comparable development occurred in Sweden, although Scandinavian scholars initially used the term general didactics rather than comparative didactics. Both traditions recognized the possibility of comparing educational practices in different school subjects and to incorporate theories and methods from the humanities. In sum, research in comparative didactics studies the planning, execution, and follow-up of learning activities. It can be centered on learning styles, teachers’ choices of learning material, formative and summative assessment, Bildung and identity development, or education policies, national standards, and other authoritative texts. Research in comparative didactics also deals with political reforms, social practices in and around the school environment, and the interaction between those spaces. Like the neighboring field of comparative education, comparative didactics aims to study and discuss the influence of political, cultural, and social issues on the education system but it can be distinguished from the latter by its focus on learning activities and effectuated learning (Tretheway 2014).

Thus, while researchers in comparative didactics share the comparative education scholar’s interest in systems and generalities, those structures are studied by the didactics scholar in their capacity of affecting what teachers and pupils do at school. Joining theories and traditions from various disciplines and research subjects, the field of comparative didactics thus incorporates historical, pedagogical, and philosophical perspectives on teaching and learning traditions in different eras and different parts of the world. Researchers have also been interested in ethical aspects and the implementation of sustainable development and human rights-oriented content (Van Poeck, Östman and Öhman 2019). Research on curricula and other authoritative texts have contributed to the understanding of the political and moral dimension of education (Englund 1997). Scandinavian didactics scholars have also compared the rhetoric structure of curricula from different countries (Hogarth, Matthiesen and Bakken, 2021).

Furthermore, the concept of the expanded didactical triangle exposes and explains the importance of politics and other societal matters for teaching and learning (Hudson and Meyer 2011). Here, comparative didactics can emphasize the agency of teachers and students in societal and ethical developments and help schools and pupils find accurate responses to contemporary challenges such as social and environmental changes (Öhman 2014a, 2014b). As Florence Ligozat, Chantal Amade-Escot, and Leif Östman have emphasized, comparative didactics does not replace subject didactics but it “seeks to explore the institutional ‘boundaries’ – values, habits, underlying assumptions, etc. – in which knowing unfolds,” a continuous investigation that “includes examining conceptual differences and similarities among theoretical and analytical tools used by educational researchers from different fields to study teaching and learning processes” (Ligozat, Amade-Escot and Östman 2015).

Maria Luisa Schubauer-Leoni and Francia Leutenegger have emphasized that by systematic comparisons, the generic variables, i.e. the modellable parts of the examined teaching and learning, can be distinguished and described, which makes it easier to identify and asses the contingent. In other terms, one cannot identify the particular before knowing the tertium comparationis, the qualities that are shared. From this vantagepoint it also becomes natural to have interdisciplinary discussions and avoid the ruts of reference didactics (Schubauer-Leoni and Leutenegger 2002). As the heads of the French organization ARCD have stressed, the relative youth and theoretical diversity of the field makes it vulnerable to attacks from representatives of more homogenous disciplines (Ligozat and Doussot 2017). Thus, the planned conference is not just a means to expand the field but also to consolidate it and promote a more contained and cooperative environment. Only when a creative space is framed can ideas prosper and become relatable parts of a bigger whole.

The people involved in the organization and quality control of ISCOD 2023 are didactics-oriented scholars from several humanistic and educational disciplines. The organizing and scientific committees are thus designed to encourage and support the kind of comparative and transdisciplinary research that the symposium aims to promote. A humanist driven network centered around comparative didactics appears a necessary compliment to the subject specific research networks already in place, such as the LDN (Litteraturdidaktiskt nätverk) and SMDI (Nationella nätverket för Svenska med didaktisk inriktning). The Uppsala-based research group Studies of Comparative Didactics holds seminars in comparative didactics but there are no international conferences in Scandinavia like ISCOD. The members of ISCOD’s scientific committee combine extensive teaching experience with senior level research in language, pedagogy, and history studies. The organizing committee consists of experienced literary scholars from the three universities involved.

Submission guidelines

The participants will be given the opportunity to publish peer reviewed papers, assuring continuous and qualitative collaboration. ISCOD 2023 will take place on January 11 and 12 in Örebro, Sweden, providing an exclusive opportunity for researchers with an interest in comparative didactics to meet, communicate and initiate research in groups that include traditionally separated disciplines and cultures.

By 17 August 2022 at the latest,

please submit your brief bio and abstract along with food and accommodation preferences here.

If you require any further information, please contact


mot(s) clé(s) :  comparaison internationale, didactiques disciplinaires