Department of Culture and Learning

PhD course: Researching International Organizations

Researching International Organizations

June 15, 2015
Aalborg University, Denmark

The purpose of this PhD course is to explore leading approaches to the understanding and practical assessment of IO performances in a broader historical, thematic and institutional context. Participants will emerge with a deeper ability to examine the complexities of IO research, and to apply alternative approaches and means to overcome methodological challenges. The course, in addition to historical, thematic and institutional exploration, will also feature case-specific applications in a supportive interactive learning environment. In some measure, the specific issue areas will be determined by the research proposals of the selected participants, but more broadly the themes and methodologies to be addressed may include:

  • The current state of knowledge regarding ideas, norms, policies and practices, needs and resources, and “lessons learned” at the UN System and other international organizations and agencies;
  • The roles and impacts of international organizations at local, national and global levels;
  • The complexity and changing nature of the interrelationships between political, ideological, social, economic, legal, institutional and technological aspects of IO performances.

Through presentations by the participants, special lectures, guided research and innovative pedagogies, this course will encourage PhD candidates to improve their own skills and capacities for engaging constructively in critical issue areas of IO research.

Final program - PhD course

Since the end of WWII, IOs have been playing an increasingly important role in the promotion of human rights, post-conflict reconstructions, peace-building, development, crisis management, etc. In 2015, the international community commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and its key agencies. In cooperation with The Global History of UNESCO Project, we would like to organize and invite PhD candidates to join us at Aalborg University to engage in critical one full-day discussions of the achievements, the needs and challenges of researching IOs in learning, developing, promoting and defending ideas and methodologies set in research agendas. The United Nations System will be one of the priority considerations for this course. The participants will also be invited to attend the two-day UNESCO workshop/conference that will follow immediately after the PhD course. Through this additional “bonus” participation, we hope to encourage new directions and new ideas in the analysis of international organizations, to help establish and strengthen contacts between scholars from diverse disciplines, such as history, international relations, education, international law, humanities, on one hand, and the UN and other IO practitioners, on the other, and to stimulate advanced research in the field of IOs.

Monday, June 15, 2015 - Nyhavnsgade 14, room 1.04

9:00 am - 9:15 am


Christian Ydesen, Assistant Professor, Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark

9:15 am - 9:45 am


9:45 am - 10:00 am


10:00 am - 11:00 am


Transnational Organizations: History - Concepts - Challenges 

Keynote Speaker
Eckhart Fuchs, Deputy Director, The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Germany

11:00 am - 12:35 pm


Presentation #1: The Role of Cultural Heritage and Institutional Trust
Elisabeth Lauridsen Lolle (Aalborg University, Denmark)

Presentation #2: Intercultural networks as a knowledge-sharing platform– focusing on an Arctic network based on Danish and Greenlandic organizations
Stine Bylin Bundgaard (Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark)

Presentation #3: Internal Labour Migration and Access to Formal Social Protection for Migrants in Informal Employment in Ghana: A Study of Techiman District
Augustine Yelfaanibe (Department of Culture & Global Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark)

Presentation #4: Climate Change and Sustainable Livelihoods Adaptation: User Perspectives on Community Managed Irrigation Schemes in Northern Ghana
Amosah Jonah (Aalborg University, Denmark)

Discussion and review – 45 min.

Eckhart Fuchs and Christian Ydesen

12:35 pm - 1:35 pm


1:35 pm - 1:45 pm

Welcoming note

Antje Gimmler, Professor, Head of the PhD School, Aalborg University

1:45 pm - 2:45 pm


Researching IOs from History and IR Perspectives

Keynote Speaker
Aigul Kulnazarova, Professor of International Relations and Law, School of Global Studies, Tama University, Japan

2:45 pm - 3:00 pm


3:00 pm - 4:35 pm


Presentation #5: Modernization and Sinicization: Education Cooperation between League of Nations and Secondary Education Reform in China
Kaiyi Li (Master Technical University Braunschweig, Germany)

Presentation #6: Making knowledge hierarchies in Sino-Danish education
Jin Hui Li (Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark)

Presentation #7: The EU Reform Process in Politics, Academia and Civic Education – A Mixed Method Analysis of German Textbooks for Social Studies
Marret Bischewski (Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook, Braunschweig, Germany)

Presentation #8: Classical Realism and the Challenging of Real Man
André Ken Jakobsson (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)

Presentation #9: Experiencing Historical Processes - Museum learning practice and digital technologies
Emanuela Marchetti (Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)

Discussion and review – 45 min.

Aigul Kulnazarova and Christian Ydesen

4:35 pm -5:05 pm


5:05 pm -5:15 pm


6:00 pm -8:00 pm




  1. Reinalda, Bob (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of International Organization (London & New York: Routledge, 2013), 576 pp. 
    “This Handbook brings together scholars whose essays discuss significant issues with regard to international organization as a process and international organizations as institutions. Although the focus is on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are discussed where relevant. The handbook is divided into six parts:
    • Documentation, Data Sets and Sources
    • International Secretariats as Bureaucracies
    • Actors within International Bureaucracies
    • Processes within International Bureaucracies
    • Challenges to International Organizations, and
    • Expanding International Architectures.”
  2. Martin, Lisa L., and Simmons, Beth A. (eds.) International Institutions: An International Organization Reader (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The MIT Press, 2001), 465 pp.
    This collection of essays focuses on theories and empirical studies of international institutions, regimes and organizations, which are at the heart of the study of international relations. The Chapter 3 by Martha Finnemore is devoted to “International Organizations as Teachers of Norms: The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Science Policy.” Part IV is of a special interest as it brings together four contributions that critically examine the present state of international organizations.
  3. Barkin, Samuel J. International Organization: Theories and Institutions (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 185 pp.
  4. Stahn, Carsten, and Melber, Henning (eds) Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency: Rethinking Human Security and Ethics in the Spirit of Dag Hammarskjöld (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 617 pp.





Eckhart Fuchs is Deputy Director of the Georg Eckert Institute since 2009 and Professor in History of Education/ Comparative Education at the Technical University Braunschweig since 2011. After completing his PhD in History at the University of Leipzig in 1992, he began his academic career at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Free University of Berlin. From 2001 until 2007 he was Assistant Professor at the University of Mannheim. In 2007, he joined the Georg Eckert Institute as Research Director. With research interests in global history of education, international education policies, curriculum and textbook development, world history and the history of science, he has widely published on these issues including Connecting Histories of Education: Transactions, Transculturalism and Transnationalism (2014), Transnationalizing the History of Education (2012); Contextualizing School Textbook Revision (2010), and Informal and Formal Cross-Cultural Networks in History of Education (2007). He is a recipient of various scholarships and also served as a visiting professor to universities in Sydney, Umeå, Tokyo, and Seoul.

Aigul Kulnazarova, PhD, is Professor of International Relations and International Law at the School of Global Studies, Tama University, Japan. She specializes in international organizations, international relations, international law, human rights, global studies and history. Her current research is concerned with the politics of history education in East Asia and post-Soviet republics, human rights education, democracy and international relations in Asia. She has published articles, essays and book chapters on the topics of human rights, decolonization, post-war international relations of Third World nations, history writing and politics both in Russian and English. She is a member of international research project “Routes of Knowledge: The global history of UNESCO, 1945-1975,” which is hosted by Aalborg University and funded by the Danish Research Council through August 2017.

Christian Ydesen, PhD, is Assistant Professor and postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark. His PhD dissertation – from the School of Education at Aarhus University and at the Centre for Educational Sociology, University of Edinburgh – is about the history of educational testing in Denmark with a special emphasis on transnational connections and the impact of international organizations. He is the author of numerous books and articles on history of education and intercultural education, and he has published in the prestigious journal for educational history, Paedagogica Historica. At present, he is a member of international research project “Routes of Knowledge: The global history of UNESCO, 1945-1975,” which is hosted by Aalborg University and funded by the Danish Research Council through August 2017.


Plan for discussants

Andre Augustine Discussant
Augustine Elisabeth Discussant
Elisabeth Hui Discussant
Hui Jonah Discussant
Jonah Kaiyi Discussant
Kaiyi Marret Discussant
Marret Stine Discussant
Stine Emanuela Discussant
Emanuala Andre Discussant


Additional information

Master students, Zijun Xue and Katrine Juul Kjer Petersen will participate in the course without a presentation.

Student assistant, Mads Kyvsgaard Mogensen will help with the practical issues.


Conference coordinator Christian Ydesen

Conference secretary: Marianne Høgsbro

Organizing Committee


Poul Duedahl 

Aigul Kulnazarova


Further conference information