Centre for International Education and Research

Last updated

Educating for Global Justice CIER logo.png
Educating for Global Justice

The Centre for International Education and Research (CIER) evolved in the 1950s, at the University of Birmingham UK, in the context of the involvement of British academics in the new international educational role of the United Nations.


Within the philosophy of Global justice, research and teaching interests at CIER include: human security, extremism, conflict and emergencies, sustainable development and environmental justice; global citizenship, human rights, and democracy; marginalisation, street children, inclusion and special educational needs (SEN); international development, and university internationalisation. The Centre runs an ‘International Studies in Education’ programme, at Masters and PhD levels, reflecting the fields of International education and Comparative education, and the work of international organisations such as UNESCO and UNICEF.

The Centre has worked with academics and students from most parts of the world, including Africa, South and East Asia, Europe, Middle East, and North and South America. Staff have carried out international research for academic and other organisations including the British Academy, British Council, Carnegie Foundation, CfBT, Council for Canadian Studies, Daiwa Angro Japanese Foundation, Department for International Development UK (DFID), Deutsche Bank, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, European Commission, GTZ, Gulbenkian Foundation, Home Office, Japan Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Oxfam, Sino-British Fellowship Trust, United States Department of Labor (USDoL), United Nations University (UNU), UNESCO and UNICEF.

Anti-corruption poster, Liberia, 2004 Liberia 2004, Anti-corruption poster.JPG
Anti-corruption poster, Liberia, 2004

CIER is a member of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network, and Development Education Association. [1] It helped to set up the British University in Dubai (BUID), and has formal links with Ontario Institute of Education (OISE), University of Toronto; Deshkal Society, Delhi; the Gambia Youth Movement for Peace and Unity in Africa; and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) in Seoul.


Elihu Burritt, the "grandfather of the United Nations", in Birmingham, circa 1860 Elihu Burritt.png
Elihu Burritt, the "grandfather of the United Nations", in Birmingham, circa 1860

Early international influences in Birmingham include Elihu Burritt, a US Consul sent by Abraham Lincoln, who lived in Harborne just north of the present Birmingham University campus. Known as the 'learned blacksmith', Burritt educated himself and became an exceptional linguist and social activist, working against slavery and famine, and for peace and industrial workers rights. In 1847 he created precursors to the League of Nations and United Nations - the League of Universal Brotherhood, and an International Peace Congress in Brussels (1848) and Paris (1849). He proposed a 'Congress of Nations' and a 'High Court of Nations', [2] and was an instigator of peace education. [3] He advocated free universal education, and in a 'Speech at the Anniversary of the Parish Schools, Harborne' concluded, "The pursuit of knowledge is not a steeple-chase...stimulated by the ambition to excel, and carry off the largest number of prizes and certificates of merit. It is the acquiring of the working capital of a useful life when the learner comes to act for himself or for others". [4]

The ethos of Burritt's work continued when, after World War I, Birmingham University staff collaborated with the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) and League of Nations Union in Harborne, to teach local factory workers. [5] In 1947, the International Student Service and Refugee Committee worked with the British Council to bring to the University eighty-three students from sixteen countries. [6]

In 1952, Educational Review, the journal of the Birmingham University Institute of Education, ran a summer school at Malvern. Speaking in the era of a post-war world, and the formation of the United Nations, the Institute's director, Professor M.V.C. Jeffreys, observed, "The fate of our civilisation hangs in the balance. It is an age of conflict and confusion, both material and spiritual." At Malvern, "a group of men and women whose main purpose was a comparative study of education" met. The result was a report, ‘Education in other countries’. [7]

This initiative was followed by a series of country studies, including a description of 'Education in India' by B.C.L. James who was a Lecturer in Education at Birmingham University. James concluded, 'If every citizen is to exercise his [sic] legal rights in an atmosphere of goodwill, the teacher must be in a position to give his pupils a full understanding of his country's democracy', [8] which was prescient of CIER's subsequent work on democracy, citizenship and global justice. A report about ‘Education for International understanding’, [9] appeared in 1954, and inspired the UNESCO Recommendation of 1974. [10] This Recommendation provides the basis for the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), which is formally linked with CIER. [11]

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, at Birmingham University, June 2009 Ban Ki-moon at Birmingham University.png
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, at Birmingham University, June 2009

In the 1960s, international work became located within the Unit for Commonwealth and Development Studies in Education, under the direction of Robert Dalton and then Rex Oram, which provided a 'Commonwealth Course' for ministry officials and head teachers. Dalton wrote, Education on the move: a handbook for teachers and administrators in the British tropical commonwealth, in 1968, [12] and the Unit hosted the Annual Conference of the Association of Teachers of Overseas Education (ATOE) in 1984, with Philip Coombs as keynote speaker. [13] While collaborating with the British Council, the Centre became known as the International Unit, and Peter Willig, who had taught in China soon after the Cultural Revolution, established a Comparative education course. In 1992, Roy Lowe, a Reader in the Education Faculty, wrote Education and the second war, [14] which covered European countries and Japan. This prefaced CIER’s work on education and conflict [15] in countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Lebanon, Palestine, and Afghanistan. [16]

To reflect the broadening scope of its endeavours, the name was changed in 1996 to the Centre for International Education and Research (CIER), while under the directorship of Professor Lynn Davies.

Related Research Articles

Education Learning in which knowledge and skills is transferred through teaching

Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, however learners can also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.

Tertiary education Advanced level of education, usually for adults

Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the educational level following the completion of secondary education. The World Bank, for example, defines tertiary education as including universities as well as trade schools and colleges. Higher education is taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, while vocational education beyond secondary education is known as further education in the United Kingdom, or included under the category of continuing education in the United States.

University for Peace Intergovernmental organization

The University for Peace (UPEACE) is an intergovernmental organization with university status, established by treaty at the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 and having its main campus in Costa Rica. Its stated mission is "to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations."

Harborne Human settlement in England

Harborne is an area of south-west Birmingham, England, three miles (5 km) southwest from Birmingham city centre. It is a Birmingham City Council ward in the formal district and in the parliamentary constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston.

Elihu Burritt

Elihu Burritt was an American diplomat, philanthropist and social activist. He was a prolific lecturer, journalist and writer, who traveled widely in the US and Europe.

Carnegie Corporation of New York United States trust

The Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic fund established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to support education programs across the United States, and later the world. Carnegie Corporation has endowed or otherwise helped to establish institutions that include the United States National Research Council, what was then the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, the Carnegie libraries and the Children's Television Workshop. It also for many years generously funded Carnegie's other philanthropic organizations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT), and the Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS).

The education and schools in Africa have changed a lot over time. Ever since it was first introduced to Africa, it has been an important part to the history of the continent. This article describes the problems, technology, history, and other information about education in Africa.

Edward Capern

Edward Capern, was an English poet, best known for The Devonshire Melodist and Wayside Warbles. He built up a strong reputation that persisted particularly in his native Devon.

Environmental education

Environmental education (EE) refers to organized efforts to teach how natural environments function, and particularly, how human beings can manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably. It is a multi-disciplinary field integrating disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, earth science, atmospheric science, mathematics, and geography. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) states that EE is vital in imparting an inherent respect for nature amongst society and in enhancing public environmental awareness. UNESCO emphasises the role of EE in safeguarding future global developments of societal quality of life (QOL), through the protection of the environment, eradication of poverty, minimization of inequalities and insurance of sustainable development. The term often implies education within the school system, from primary to post-secondary. However, it sometimes includes all efforts to educate the public and other audiences, including print materials, websites, media campaigns, etc.. There are also ways that environmental education is taught outside the traditional classroom. Aquariums, zoos, parks, and nature centers all have ways of teaching the public about the environment.

UNESCO-CEPES was established in 1972 at Bucharest, Romania, as a de-centralized office for the European Centre for Higher Education. The Centre was closed in 2011 due to lack of funding. The centre promoted international cooperation in the sphere of higher education among UNESCO’s Member States in Central, Eastern and South-East Europe and also served Canada, the United States and Israel. Higher Education in Europe, a scholarly publication focusing on major problems and trends in higher education, was the official journal of UNESCO-CEPES. The CEPES headquarters was in the Kretzulescu Palace in Bucharest.

Australian Council for Educational Research

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), established in 1930, is an independent educational research organisation based in Camberwell, Victoria (Melbourne) and with offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Dubai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, London, New Delhi, Perth and Sydney. ACER develops and manages a range of testing and assessment services and conducts research and analysis in the education sector.

Fernando Reimers

Fernando M. Reimers is the Ford Foundation Professor of the Practice in International Education and Director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative and of The International Education Policy Program at Harvard University. He is interested in advancing understanding of the ways schools can empower students to participate civically and economically, and to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He is a member of UNESCO's Commission on the Futures of Education and is interested in supporting the creation of coalitions that collaborate in enhancing the relevancy of educational institutions and to strengthen the teaching profession.

St Peters Church, Harborne Church

Saint Peter's is the ancient parish church of Harborne, Birmingham, England.

Primary education First stage of formal education

Primary education is typically the first stage of formal education, coming after preschool and before secondary school. Primary education takes place in primary school, the elementary school or first and middle school depending on the location.

Malcolm Adiseshiah

Malcolm Sathiyanathan Adiseshiah, was an Indian development economist and educator. In 1976 he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India, a civilian award given for "distinguished service of a high order...without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex." In 1998 the UNESCO created ‘The Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize’ in recognition of his contribution to education and literacy.

Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) is a UK-based international foundation dedicated to unlocking the creativity of children and young people in and out of formal education. This is done primarily through designing and implementing programmes which improve the quality and reach of cultural education, and use culture and the arts to improve the quality and impact of general education, working with partners from around the world.

Keith Lewin

Keith M Lewin is a British Professor of International education and Development at the University of Sussex and Director of the Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE). He is known for his work in educational planning, economics and finance of education, teacher education, assessment, science and technology education policy in developing countries, educational aid and program evaluation. He has been adviser to various governmental, multilateral and non-profit organisations on education planning and policy, including the World Bank, DFID, UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning, UNICEF, UNDP, AusAID and others. His country experience includes projects in Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and China.

Michael Omolewa Historian and UN official

Michael Abiola Omolewa is a Nigerian diplomat, scholar, education historian, and civil servant. From September 2003 to October 2005, he served as the 32nd president of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). While president, Omolewa led UNESCO to adopt the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data and the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. From January 2000 to August 2009, Omolewa served as permanent delegate and ambassador of Nigeria to UNESCO. At University of Lagos, on Wednesday 6 February 2019, Omolewa delivered the 5th Enoch Adeboye Annual Birthday Public Lecture; titled: Peace: The Global Quest.

Global citizenship education (GCED) is a form of civic learning that involves students' active participation in projects that address global issues of a social, political, economic, or environmental nature. The two main elements of GCE are 'global consciousness'; the moral or ethical aspect of global issues, and 'global competencies', or skills meant to enable learners to participate in changing and developing the world. The promotion of GCE was a response by governments and NGOs to the emergence of supranational institution, regional economic blocs, and the development of information and communications technologies. These have all resulted in the emergence of a more globally oriented and collaborative approach to education. GCE addresses themes such as peace and human rights, intercultural understanding, citizenship education, respect for diversity and tolerance, and inclusiveness.

Daniel A. Wagner is the UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy, and Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania where his research specializes in learning, literacy, child development, educational technologies, and international educational development. He is founding Director (1983) of Penn’s Literacy Research Center and the federally funded National Center on Adult Literacy (1990). In recent years, the center has become the International Literacy Institute (ILI), co-established by UNESCO and the University of Pennsylvania. Wagner is also the Director of Penn’s International Educational Development Program (IEDP) and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Educational Research Association. He is the author numerous books and articles on learning, literacy, cross-cultural research and methodologies, and is a frequent speaker at major national and international conferences across the world. He has worked as an advisor to, among others, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, USAID, and DFID. In 2012, Wagner was appointed by Hillary Clinton as a Member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. In the same year, he was named UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy. In 2012-2014, he served as Chair of the Brookings Global Research Task Force on Learning. In 2014, he was a recipient of the UNESCO Confucius International Literacy Prize. He has maintained multi-year educational projects in India, South Africa, and Morocco.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Speech at the Congress at Frankfort, August 24th 1850, in Burritt, E. (1869) Lectures and speeches by Elihu Burritt, Sampson Low: London.
  3. Howlett, Charles F.; Harris, Ian M. (2010). Books, Not Bombs: Teaching Peace Since the Dawn of the Republic (e-book ed.). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc. p. 27. ISBN   978-1-61735-158-7 . Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  4. Speech 'Speech at the Anniversary of the Parish Schools, Harborne', in Burritt, E. (1869) Lectures and speeches by Elihu Burritt, Sampson Low: London.
  5. Ives, E. (2000) The first civic university 1880-1980, Birmingham University Press: Birmingham, 205.
  6. Ives, E. (2000) The first civic university 1880-1980, Birmingham University Press: Birmingham, 282.
  7. Dobinson, C. H. (1952) ‘Education in other countries’, Educational Review, vol.4(2), pp92-116.
  8. James, B.C.L. (1955) ‘The Background of Education in India’, Educational Review, vol.7(2), pp90-107.
  9. Strong, C. F., (1954) ‘Education for International Understanding’, Educational Review, vol.6(2), pp79-102.
  10. Recommendation concerning education for international understanding,co-operation and peace and education relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms adopted by the Geneva Conference at its eighteenth session, Paris, 19 November 1974.
  11. http://www.unescoapceiu.org/main/main.php%5B%5D
  12. Dalton, R H F (1968) Education on the move: a handbook for teachers and administrators in the British tropical commonwealth, University of Birmingham Press.
  13. Education for development - a role for Britain?
  14. Lowe, R. Education and the Second World War, Routledge: London.
  15. Davies, L. (2004) Education and conflict, RoutledgeFalmer: London,
  16. Williams, C. & F. Yazdani (2008)'The rehabilitation paradox: Street working children in Afghanistan', Diaspora, indigenous, and minority education, 3:1,4-20.

Coordinates: 52°27′05″N1°55′38″W / 52.4515°N 1.9271°W / 52.4515; -1.9271