Symposium on Comparative Educational Philosophy

I look forward to giving an online presentation on January 29 for the British Association for International and Comparative Education. My role for our symposium is as a Discussant, responding to philosophical papers presented by a group of excellent PhD students from five different countries—Adam Switala (Poland), Thu Thu (Myanmar), Czarecah Tuppil Oropilla (Philippines), Luna Luo (China), and Dorothy Ferary (Indonesia)—who are among those that participated in my 2020 course PhD911: Non-Western Educational Philosophy and Policy.

It is exciting to see what these bright young thinkers are accomplishing, and a thrill to be part of it. They are from the same group of scholars who are collaborating with me in development of a special issue on Asian Philosophies for the Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education

This BAICE event is hosted by Dorothy Ferary, to whom we are grateful for the invitation. We are eager to present our ideas, obtain feedback, and publish our work within a few months. A link to the event, with further details, will be posted here when it is made available. 

I am hoping we will also manage to attract a few more qualified students to the upcoming Bergen Summer Research School, which includes a new PhD course Internationalising Higher Education


Thanh Thuy Nguyen in Bergen

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Thanh Thuy Nguyen has been awarded full funding from the Swedish Research Council for a 3-year position as Postdoctoral Researcher with the Grieg Academy Music Education (GAME) and Kairos research groups here in western Norway.

Dr. Nguyen is a renowned master performer on the Vietnamese instrument dan tranh—who works as a professional musician in both traditional and experimental genres—and is also an accomplished researcher. We look forward to mutually-beneficial collaboration in both research and creative music projects.     

Below are links for further information about her artistic and scholarly output:





Major Music Education Project in Uganda

East Africa is among the most dynamic regions of the world today, with many enduring opportunities for economic and educational development. I have long been interested in this region, and have lectured for University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and University of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), and mentored a doctoral student from Bagamoyo when I worked in Finland. More recently, Uganda has really captured my attention, especially through participation in several planning meetings with professors and lecturers from University of Bergen, Makerere University and Kyambogo University to develop a proposal for long-term collaboration between Norway and Uganda.

It is now a great pleasure to announce that we have been awarded a large grant from the Norhed program of Norad (Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs). It is to support the 6-year CABUTE project, which will develop the first PhD programs in music, education, and related fields to strengthen teacher training and higher education in Uganda. 

Steinar Sætre, a member of GAME research group, is the project manager, and I will have the main responsibility for PhD program development. Through the TeLEd research group and the CABUTE project, we will collaborate with Robert Gray (educational technology/higher education specialist, also at University of Bergen) and a team of professors and local experts based in Uganda. With Norad’s generous financial support we will be able to focus most of our attention on this project for a 6-year period (2021-2027). It is an amazing opportunity, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this promising collaboration.

Please note that the main project leaders in Norway will also be collaboratively teaching the online PhD course Internationalizing Higher Education for the 2021 Bergen Summer Research School, which is now open to applications from PhD students who can earn credits by taking this course from anywhere in the world. 

We also eagerly await the results of proposals for collaborative research and development projects with institutions and organizations in Europe (Erasmus Plus) and East Asia (Utforsk). Hopefully there will be more good news in early 2021 and opportunities to gain additional institutional support for these initiatives, including PhD stipendiats and Postdoctoral students. 


More information: https://www.uib.no/en/sdgbergen/141540/uib-sweeps-norhed-ii-funding#cabute

[Displayed here are the official Coat of Arms of Uganda, and the file Languages of Uganda, public domain, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda#/media/File:Coat_of_arms_of_Uganda.svg; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Languages_of_Uganda.png].


Book Reviewed in Swedish Journal

Click HERE to see a review of our book Advancing Music Education in Northern Europe (Routledge, 2019), which was written by David Johnson, and published in the Swedish Journal of Music Research

Also, click HERE to see an earlier review of the book, by Adam Switala, published on the website of the International Society for Music Education. 

The book was developed through the Nordic Network for Music Education, an organization I manage which is now expanding with additional partner institutions and projects.

Shown above is a photo of my backyard in Bergen on a day with rather unusual weather. 


Ceremonial Music in 2021

Since ancient times music has been used to set the tone for important events, an essential part of rituals in all cultures worldwide.

Near the conclusion of such a challenging year (2020), I am optimistic to now be developing original music for two events in 2021:

  • Fanfare for the inauguration of the new rektor (president) at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, historian Gunnar Yttri.
  • Music for the opening ceremony of the Bergen Summer Research School, an international PhD-level collaboration between multiple research institutions in Bergen, Norway.

Both of these events will mostly occur online, but we are hopeful that the ongoing pandemic will become much less of a concern in the coming months, making the planning of “live” events ever more realistic.


How ceremonial music should sound in 2021 is an interesting question. Composers and songwriters often struggle to find an ideal balance, in the hope that audiences will not regard their work as either too conservative, too commercialized, or too abstract and complex. Music for events of this kind—with a truly diverse audience—should sound different from music designed to advance the artform with techniques that may only be fully appreciated by composers and professional musicians. It also should not sound like something that belongs in a different century, or that is pop-influenced to the point of seeming condescending to the audience. It is meant to create a serious yet festive mood and focus attention on a significant point in time and space.    

[Public domain image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Russian_Fanfare_Trumpets.jpg]


Asian Educational Philosophies

It is a pleasure to announce a special issue of the Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education on the theme “Rethinking Asian Educational Philosophies” (edited by David Hebert). This issue is currently under development for publication in early 2021, and promises to be a unique resource, with updated studies of educational thought in China, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Japan, India, and elsewhere. More details will be posted here in January.


Also, below is the poster for Bergen Summer Research School, 2021. This is a unique opportunity for PhD students to take an interdisciplinary course for ECTS credits along with doctoral students from around the world. Due to the pandemic, it will be entirely online, and free of charge. 

I will be teaching the BSRS course Internationalizing Higher Education, which is designed to offer new ideas for how to enhance international cooperation among universities. Like previous years, I am also developing original music for the opening event, but this time it will probably need to be a sound recording rather than live performance. 

Here are links for more information:





Review of Advancing Music Education in Northern Europe

Click HERE to see the very first published review of our book Advancing Music Education in Northern Europe (Routledge, 2019), which was just published on the website of the International Society for Music Education. 

Thank you, Adam Switala, for such a careful reading and thoughtful review.

The book was developed through the Nordic Network for Music Education, which has its 2020 intensive seminar next week.