CALL FOR PAPERS: Special Issue on Scientization of International Educational Development Programs in the Global South - Opportunities and Challenges 



Comparative education scholarship on international educational development seems to generally follow three nonexclusive trajectories. One, international organizations (IOs) are portrayed as instruments for promoting Western cultures. The power imbalance between the West and the Global South is generally considered characteristic of the traditional regulatory/financial governance model putting the latter at the receiving end of educational aid and policy (Menashy & Shields, 2017; Dale, 2007; Jones, 2007). Two, the world is viewed as a cultural society, as viewed in world polity theory (Meyers, 2010). Accordingly, global educational governance promotes a shared conception of world society, humanity, development, and sustainability. To build consensus about development priorities, IOs position themselves as policy activists and advocates (Mundy, 2006).

The third trajectory explains how global governance primarily uses the power of ideas or knowledge for organizational legitimacy and impact. This is referred to in the literature as soft governance (Niemann & Martens, 2018; Zapp, 2020), as it relies on the authority of scientific knowledge as opposed to hard, financial preconditions to govern education.

However, our understanding of epistemic governance or scientific multilateralism in education is still incomplete. A “more thorough reconceptualisation of IOs as knowledge actors in global education governance is a task from which scholars of international organisations and comparative education might benefit in explaining educational change worldwide” (Zapp, 2020, 17).

This SI explores the scientization of global educational governance linked to educational policymaking and practice. It examines how and to what extent IOs consider scientization as a powerful tool for impact and legitimacy. The units of analysis include the policies, strategic plans, programs, projects, publications, and official reports of intergovernmental and non-governmental IOs. Contributions to the SI could be theoretical, conceptual, and or empirical studies. Systematic reviews, policy and strategic plan analyses, discourse analyses, and empirical studies (qualitative and or qualitative) that examine the impact or effect of knowledge-driven intervention programs or projects developed by IOs are all relevant to the SI. The following questions could guide contributions.

  • How do IOs justify the production of scientific knowledge linked to their operations?
  • How is knowledge conceived in such emerging arenas?
  • What research methodology or approach is considered relevant?
  • How is quality assured in knowledge production?
  • How and to what extent is knowledge translated into policy, plan, program, or project?
  • How are partners in the Global South engaged in decision making?
  • What assumptions are made about the education systems and their socio-cultural, economic, and governance contexts in the Global South?
  • How are quality education, project/program impact/result/effect operationalized?

Authors are invited to submit their abstract of approximately 200 words highlighting the focus, study question/s, methods, theoretical framework/s, and findings- if already available. Submit your abstract to no later than 15 December 2020. If the abstract is accepted, full paper submission is expected directly to the journal by 31 March 2021 and the anticipated publication is July 2021.


Dale, R. (2007). Specifying globalization effects on national policy: A focus on the mechanisms. In B. Lingard & J. Ozga (Eds.), The RoutledgeFalmer reader in education policy and politics (pp. 46–64). Routledge.

Menashy, F., & Shields, R. (2017). Unequal partners? Networks, centrality, and aid to international education. Comparative Education, 53(4), 495-517.

Meyer, J. W. (2010). World society, institutional theories, and the actor. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 1-20.

Mundy, K. (2006). Education for all and the new development compact. Review of Education, 52(1/2), 23-48.

Niemann, D., & Martens, K. (2018). Soft governance by hard fact? The OECD as a knowledge broker in education policy. Global Social Policy, 18(3), 267 –283.

Jones, P. W. (2007). World Bank financing of education: Lending, learning and development. Routledge.

Zapp, M. (2020). The authority of science and the legitimacy of international organisations: OECD, UNESCO and World Bank in global education governance. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education.