Non-affirmative Education Theory and Discursive Institutionalism as Possibilities for Curriculum Research

Foreword to a Special Issue


  • Michael Uljens Åbo Akademi University



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Author Biography

Michael Uljens, Åbo Akademi University

After his appointment as professor in education at Helsinki university in the year 2000, Michael Uljens has since 2003 been working as professor of General Education and Educational Leadership at Åbo Akademi University. Prof. Uljens has also been working at different universities in Sweden (Gothenburg, Uppsala, Umeå), Germany (Humboldt university), Malta and the USA (Arizona) and in China (ECNU, Shanghai). Michael Uljens leads a research program "Non-Affirmative Educational Theory and Hermeneutic School Development in a Globopolitan Era". In its theoretical parts the projects reconstructs and develops core notions of modern education focussing Bildung, intersubjectivity, recognition and hermeneutics, in developing theory of pedagogical collaborative activity in a globopolitan perspective. In its empirical parts the project studies research supported development of educational leadership from classrooms to transnational levels. Many of his publications mediate between Nordic, German and Anglo-American approaches to Didaktik, curriculum studies and General Education (Allgemeine Pädagogik). He has been working with both quantitative (Lisrel) and qualitative methods (phenomenography). He has published in Swedish, Finnish, English and German. Some work is translated into Polish and Japanese. In his most recent book (, free to be downloaded by anyone, he argues that successful school development in a globopolitan era requires a coordinated, balanced and systemic multi-level approach including curriculum and policy work, school leadership and teaching. Recent publications:


Benner, D. (2015). Allgemeine pädagogik (8. edition). Weinheim: Beltz Juventa.
Nordin, A. & Sundberg, D. (2018). Exploring curriculum change using discursive institutionalism – a conceptual framework. Journal of Curriculum Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00220272.2018.1482961
Schmidt, V. A. (2008). Discursive institutionalism: The explanatory power of ideas and discourse. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 303–326.
Uljens, M. (1998). Allmän pedagogik (General Education). Lund: Studentlitteratur.
Uljens, M. & Ylimaki, R. (2017). Non-Affirmative Theory of Education as a Foundation for Curriculum Studies, Didaktik and Educational Leadership. In: M. Uljens & R. Ylimaki (Eds.), Bridging Educational Leadership, Curriculum Theory and Didaktik - Non-Affirmative Theory of Education (pp. 3-145). Cham: Springer.
Wahlström, N. & Sundberg, D. (2018). Discursive institutionalism: towards a framework for analysing the relation between policy and curriculum. Journal of Education Policy, 33(1), 163-183.