Michele Schweisfurth (1962 - )

Schweisfurth Michele

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Michele Schweisfurth was born in Canada. She is Reader in Comparative and International Education and currently also Director of the Centre for International Education and Research, at the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. She has a wide range of experiences teaching and researching in education institutions in different national contexts (Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Scotland, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Russia, South Africa, Lesotho, Rwanda, The Gambia, India and China), from primary schools to universities, including work with out-of-school groups, such as adults with disabilities, and prisoners.

Schweisfurth's research and publications have focused on developing and transitional countries, especially in relation to education for democracy, and the potential of teachers as agents of social change. She has always been interested in the teaching of values and attitudes, including those which are part of democratic citizenship. In regard to teachers' professional identities, she has said: ``I guess I was fascinated by my own teachers, mixed bunch that they were. Why and how did they become who they were professionally? These thoughts were put into sharp focus when I started to study teachers in countries of transition, where teachers' identities were re-written virtually overnight.'' She is also interested in the tensions between global frameworks (such as children's rights and notions of 'best practice' in teaching and learning) and local and cultural imperatives. The cultural diversity in her family, and her many travels in the early stages of her career, have made her think about what it means to have a global outlook. Working with international students has made her interested in their experiences and how they develop a cosmopolitan perspective; it has also made her question what universities are doing to nurture this. She believes that ``Global citizenship and intercultural education are not just interesting: they are urgent.''

Finally, Michele Schweisfurth supports the idea that contemporary comparative education goes far beyond comparing and contrasting country A and country B, and the field has much to contribute to the important and challenging global questions regarding social justice and peace.

Educational Background

BA (Hons) English Language and Literature and French (University of Western Ontario) - 1984;

BEd/Ontario Teachers' Certificate (University of Western Ontario) - 1985;

MSc Comparative and International Education (University of Oxford) - 1995;

PhD Education (University of Warwick) - 2000.

Professional Background

English and French teacher at Holy Rosary Secondary School, Pujehun, Sierra Leone, West Africa (1985 - 1986)

Teacher of English as a Second Language, Maple Leaf and Omnilangue Language Schools, Ottawa, Ontario (1986 - 1987)

English and French Teacher at Renfrew Collegiate Institute, Renfrew, Ontario, (1987 - 1989)

Teacher Educator/English Lecturer, Universitas IAIN Jamiah Ar-Raniry, Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, (1989 - 1991)

Supervisor of employment training programme for clients with disabilities, SCOPE, Edinburgh, Scotland, (1991 -1992)

Lecturer - TCI Business College, Prison Literacy Instructor - HM Prison, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies, (1993 - 1994)

Research Assistant on Five Cultures Primary Education Project, Occasional Lecturer in Comparative Education, Co-ordinator, MA TESOL programme for Malaysian students, Institute of Education, University of Warwick, (1995 - 1998)

Lecturer, then a senior lecturer, University of Birmingham, (1998 - 2007)

Reader in Comparative and International Education, and Director of the Centre for International Education and Research (CIER), University of Birmingham, UK, since 2007

Editor of the journal Comparative Education (2009 - )

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Member of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES);

Member of the executive editorial board for the International Journal of Educational Development (IJED)

Vice-Chair of the British Association of International and Comparative Education (BAICE), (chair from September 2010).

Selected Publications

Cox, S; Dyer, C; Robinson-Pant, A. and Schweisfurth, M. (eds) (2009). Children as Decision Makers in Education: sharing experiences across cultures. London: Continuum Books.

Phillips, D. & Schweisfurth, M. (2008 and 2006). Comparative and International Education: An introduction to theory, method and practice. London: Continuum.

Schweisfurth, M. (2008). Education and Democracy in The Gambia: reflections on the position of development projects in a small African state. In D. Johnson (Ed.), The Changing Landscape of Education in Africa: quality, equality and democracy. Oxford: Symposium Books.

Schweisfurth, M. (2006). Preparing for Active Citizenship: international comparisons. In Electoral Training Commission of Korea: Participation-oriented Civic Education Contributing to Political Development, 94-106. National Electoral Commission, Seoul, Korea.

Schweisfurth, M., Q Gu. (2009). Exploring the Experiences of International Students in UK Higher Education: possibilities and limits of interculturality in university life, Intercultural Education, 20(2), 463 - 473.

Schweisfurth, M. (2006). Education for Global Citizenship: teacher agency and curricular structure in Ontario schools, Educational Review, 58(1), 41-50.

Schweisfurth, M. (2006). Global and Cross-national Influences on Education in Post-Genocide Rwanda, Oxford Review of Education, 32(5), 697-709.

Schweisfurth, M. (2005). Learning to Live Together: a Review of UNESCO's Associated Schools Project Network, International Review of Education, 51(2/3), 219-234.

Q Gu, Schweisfurth, M. (2006). Who adapts? Beyond cultural models of 'the' Chinese Learner, Language, Culture and Curriculum, 19(1), 74-89.

Schweisfurth, M., Davies, L. and Harber, C. (eds) (2002). Learning Democracy and Citizenship: International Experiences. Oxford: Symposium Books.


Created: 8/2/2010

Updated: 8/3/2010

Contributed By: Simon A. Ziba, Loyola University of Chicago