Collaboration with the surrounding society

Research-based activities via education

Research-based activities via education began with the work undertaken at the Centre for Curriculum Studies (1987-1997). In addition to research-based activities in teacher education at Uppsala University, the centre’s task was to develop training courses for teachers based on the needs of the profession and didactical research. These general and specific courses attracted participants from all the Nordic countries. The ten years’ experience of developing and teaching these courses was central both for the formation of teacher education, in which didactics became a core subject, and for the competence development unit in which the didactical training courses were developed. In the last 5 years the researchers have invested thousands of teaching hours in teacher education and in-service training courses at Uppsala University.

Research-based activities via interactive knowledge formation processes

An important principle for cooperative work has been to develop forms for deepening the use of research, where teachers, head teachers, people in authority etc., are invited to be co-creators of their own knowledge development, i.e. they are engaged in long-term processes of knowledge formation. In our 10 or so years of experience with International Training Programmes (ITP), we have, in collaboration with Niras Natura, developed different forms of interactive knowledge formation processes. These ITPs (ESD in Formal Education, ESD in Formal Education-China, ESD in a River Basin Context and ESD in Higher Education), financed by Sida and organised around the participants’ change work in their respective workplaces. More than 1,000 people – from the educational system, NGOs, ministerial departments, government agencies etcetera – in Africa and Asia – have taken part.

In the unique LärNot project (Lärande om Naturvetenskap och Teknik i skolan//Learning about the natural sciences and technology in school), which took place from 1999-2005, there was a parallel and coordinated process between research on and the development of the teaching in the four nine-year compulsory schools taking part in the project. The project generated valuable experience in terms of change processes over a relatively long period of time.

In the “Research school in didactic modelling and analysis for teachers of scientific subjects”, another strategic step has been taken with regard to interactive knowledge formation processes. Here the focus is on creating an interface between research results and tested experience through modelling, i.e. didactical theories, models and analysis methods that can be used by teachers to plan, implement and analyse their teaching. This will enable them to use the theories and models to be transformed in the encounter with the teachers’ tested experience. This transformation is essential in order for the didactical theories to be relevant and effective in the teachers’ work. The transformation is studied in order to develop knowledge about how the interface between research and tested experience can best be developed for the school setting.

The insight into the need to create an interface between science and tested experience in order to bring about a fruitful development of education was central to the formation of the “Institute for research on education and sustainable development” (IRESD) and for the work with national tests in geography.

The extensive work of developing national subject tests in geography for Year 9 and assessment support in geography in Year 6 began in 2011. Both the tests and the support were developed in close cooperation with teachers, pupils and researchers. The development work also includes the analysis and reporting of test results (see also

IRESD was established in 2006 with the aim of creating a bridge between research on education for sustainable development and development projects, primarily in Asia and Africa. Over 100 interactive seminars and workshops have been conducted and IRESD has taken part in projects financed by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida),

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). IRESD worked closely with WWF and Ramboll Natura, as well as with other NGOs and companies. When the “Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development” (SWEDESD) became part of Uppsala University in 2015, the experiences, knowledge and networks were transferred to SWEDESD. Today, SMED is actively engaged in the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030 for sustainable development in and with SWEDESD. SMED also collaborates with REACT – an independent global network focusing on the combatting of antibiotic resistance.

Acedu is a website to which teachers – from preschool to upper secondary school – can submit their lessons for comments by researchers and teachers. Here, collegial learning is combined with research, partly with the aim of enhancing quality and circulating lessons, and partly to create a national accumulation of knowledge and skills about teaching. Acedu is a result of a collaboration between members of SMED and Uppsala University Holding AM (

Research-based activities via mediation

IRESD, SWEDESD and Acedu help to connect up and create arenas for actors in schools, NGOS, businesses etcetera and educational science.

Research-based activities via the dissemination of research results

The majority of the members have written or contributed to national and/or international textbooks primarily aimed at student teachers, teachers and also pupils. Examples of books are: Education for sustainable development: Nature, School and Democracy (Studentlitteratur), Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Literacy (Routledge), Klimatididaktik (Liber), Scientific literacy. Teori och praktik (Gleerups), Problems of Meaning in Science Curriculum (Teachers College Press).

Research-based activities via research schools

SMED activities have included an active involvement in the Research School in Geography (2012-2014) and the running of the internationally unique National Research School in Education and Sustainable Development (2009-2016). At present, SMED is collaborating with Stockholm University in the Research School of Didactical Modelling and Analysis for Teachers of Scientific Subjects.