PhD Course: The curses and joys of educational categorisations
Establishing categories in Ethnography, Sociology, Political Science and History of Education
On Thursday, October 27, 2020, 15 interdisciplinary participants from European universities joined forces physically and online in a blended course on the joys and curses of working educational categories in research. The participants represents universities in both Denmark, Sweden and Austria. Working with categorisations in their material, the day included four presentations by Assistant Professor at DPU, Miriam Madsen, Docent at University College Absalon Lene S. K. Schmidt and by respectively CfU's Professor Mette Buchardt and Assistant Professor Jin Hui Li.
The lectures were organised with tracks in between, where students and lectureres were able to provide comments and insights into each other's work.
Miriam Madsen began the day by outlining how her work with "programme relevance" as a category have effects on governments and people. She reminded the students that researchers have responsibility for the categories they bring into the world.
Madsen was followed by Lene S. K. Schmidt who talked of her work with Home Learning Environment (HLE) and institutionalization of the family life. The categorisation HLE becomes a materiality of the quality trends in early childhood care.
The two lectures were followed by first a Q and A for the presenters and then peer feedback in tracks led by Jin Hui Li and Mette Buchardt. Afterwards, J. Hui Li spoke of her own experiences with categories during her PhD and how she developed her approach from intersectionality tothe concept of interlocking. She urged the participants to keep the process ongoing and open and be attentive towards fluid categories and fluid contexts.
Professor Mette Buchardt utilized her lecture to expand on a current project and how categorisations have come into play in her work as a historian. Researching the Cold War period means researching the intranational competition and therefore implicit comparisons - comparisons guided by a myriad of categories.
The day ended with a brief summary and evaluation and not least an enlightening Q and A with Li and Buchardt, who as previous advisee and advisor were able to discuss the participants' concrete questions related to the PhD process and the use of and arguments for specific categories.
It is the first time Centre for Education Policy Research' Jin Hui Li and Mette Buchardt organise this type of Ph.D. course together and based on the lively discussions and enthusiastic participants, it will not be the last!