Jim Cummins

Jim Cummins, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Professor Emeritus Jim Cummins is a productive researcher within the fields of bilingual education, second-language acquisition, educational reform and the implications of technological innovation for education. Among the issues he addresses are what entails efficient education in linguistically and culturally diverse settings and how such education can challenge coercive power relations in both school and society. Over the last years, Cummins has been involved in a major research project financed by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: “From Literacy to Multiliteracies: Designing Learning Environments for Knowledge Generation within the New Economy”. During 2016-2018, Professor Cummins is Visiting Professor within Åbo Akademi University’s minority research profile. Among his publications are Language, Power and Pedagogy (2000), Literacy, Technology, and Diversity: Teaching for Success in Changing Times (2007), and (together with Margaret Early) Big Ideas for Expanding Minds: Teaching English Language Learners across the Curriculum (2015).

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Siv Björklund, Åbo Akademi University
Siv Björklund is professor of Swedish immersion at the Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies at Åbo Akademi University. She was a member of the research group who evaluated the two initial Swedish immersion classes in Finland at the end of the 1980s, and she has since then been actively involved in immersion teaching and immersion education both in Finland and internationally. Her research encompasses Swedish as a second language, bilingual and multilingual learning as well as content and language integrated learning. Recent research projects focus the relation between multilingualism and identity in immersion programmes as well as the development of emancipatory writing among students with Swedish as a first or second language in different classroom settings. Recently published work entail a contribution in The Routledge Handbook of Educational Linguistics (Björklund & Mård-Miettinen, 2014, Established and emerging perspectives on immersion education) and an article on early immersion in The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (Björklund, Mård-Miettinen & Savijärvi, 2014, Swedish Immersion in the Early Years in Finland). Björklund is also one of the founders of the Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education (JICB).

Jim Cummins & Siv Björklund:  Policy and practice in bilingual education for a changing world
A growing number of students around the world attend schools where the main language of instruction is other than their language(s) at home.  Although there is a rising awareness of the importance of supporting and developing all students’ language(s) at school to enable them to fully and actively participate in the learning process, the means to achieve these goals vary considerably both with respect to bilingual education policies and in actual classroom instruction. In our presentation we use Canadian and Finnish educational contexts to illustrate the ways in which policy-makers and classroom teachers address the needs of (a) students from the linguistic majority who are learning partially through the minority language with the goal of bilingualism and biliteracy and (b) students from the linguistic minority who are attempting to maintain and develop spoken and literacy skills in the minority language while also acquiring the majority language. We will identify current issues and challenges facing bilingual educators in both countries including the preparation of teachers for bilingual/immersion programs and questions of teachers’ and students’ use of the two languages for instructional purposes.

Pirjo Aunio, University of Helsinki
Pirjo Aunio is a professor in Special Needs Education at the University of Helsinki. She also holds an appointment as professor II at Oslo University and as visiting professor at the University of Johannesburg. Previous appointments include project manager and researcher at the University of Jyväskylä, Niilo Mäki Institute. She has lead several large projects funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture during the last ten years. She is a member of the editorial board of four international journals, among them Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology. Aunio’s research work has one broad main focus: the development and learning of mathematical skills, as well as the difficulties associated with them. The research of Aunio’s group has had significant impact on Finnish education system, which is currently well equipped with evidence-based assessment tools to identify children with mathematical learning difficulties. At present, Aunio’s group is studying the possibilities of linking motivational and well-being factors with achievement level variables in order to develop a valid prognosis method for detecting learning difficulties and educational dropout.

Pirjo Aunio: Early mathematical skills learning and learning difficulties – evidence-based assessment and interventions
Early mathematical development is foundational for later mathematics development and important for job prospects and performance. The general aim of this presentation is to describe the research our group has done in producing evidence-based knowledge, assessment scales, and intervention materials for educators to identify children at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics and to support them in their learning. The first aim is to describe a model of core numerical skills for 5- to 8-year-olds (Aunio & Räsänen, 2015) and how this model can inform educational practices. The second aim is to describe our work on evidence-based assessment and intervention materials that are designed to be used by educators with children who struggle with mathematics learning (e.g., Mononen & Aunio, 2014; see also web services: www.lukimat.fi in Finland, Norway and South Africa.

Lisbeth Lundahl, Umeå University
Lisbeth Lundahl is professor in Educational Work at Umeå University since 2002, and a visiting professor at the University of Turku, Finland, since 2015. Her research mainly concerns education policy, and young people´s school-to-work transitions. Lisbeth Lundahl is the leader of the cross-disciplinary research program Education Policy and Young People´s Transitions, engaging some 20 senior and junior researchers, and one of the team leaders of the Nordic research centre Justice through Education in the Nordic Countries (JustEd). She runs a national network for research on career development and guidance (KAV). She acted as a vice rector of Umeå University in 2003-2008, and as Secretary General of the European Educa­tion­al Research Asso­ciation (EERA) 2005-2008. She is one of the founders of the Swedish Educa­tion­al Research Asso­ciation (SWERA, 2013). Lisbeth Lundahl was a member of the Scientific Board of the Swedish Teachers union 2003-2009. Lisbeth Lundahl has been the principal investigator of numerous research projects. At present she is running two larger projects:  Moving on. Youth attend­ing an introduction program and their career support in varying local contexts, and Learning for career management skills.

Lisbeth Lundhal: Navigating through school and into the future
Facilitating young people´s transitions from school to the labour market and higher education are urgent policy matters in all the Nordic countries, at a time when completed upper secondary education is more or less a requirement for getting a job. Young people without upper secondary education qualifications run increased risks of low income, un­employment, social marginalisation and lowered well-being. School failure and school dropout are not only costly for the individual, but for the whole society. The Nordic countries display important similarities as well as substantial differences regarding their challenges in these areas and the strategies adopted to prevent and manage failing transitions. In my presentation, I will focus the roles played by schools and education in this context, both as reflected in the concrete measures undertaken, as well as based on the voices from young people who look back on their careers. The presentation derives from my own research from Sweden, and from a couple of recent Nordic-comparative analyses of youth and transition policies.


The Nordic Centre of Excellence “Justice through Education in the Nordic Countries” (JustEd) carries out research on the challenges facing the Nordic educational systems in the 21st century. The Centre’s research is focused around the question: How do systems, cultures and actors in education enable and constrain justice in the context of globalising Nordic welfare states? More specifically, JustEd studies the impact of policies, such as school choice and public accountability, on teaching and learning cultures as well as on the marginalisation and engagement of learners. The Centre contributes to the re-formulation of democratic, inclusive education for justice in the middle of current political, economic and cultural transformation. The JustEd is a multidisciplinary and cross-national centre with 14 partners and 140 researchers. The Centre is coordinated by the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. It started its activities in August 2013 as part of the NordForsk programme Education for tomorrow.

The Nordic Centre of Excellence ”Justice through Education in the Nordic Countries” (JustEd) carries out research on the challenges facing the Nordic educational systems in the 21st century. The multidisciplinary and cross-national centre with 14 partners and 140 researchers started its activities in August 2013 as part of the NordForsk programme Education for tomorrow. The Centre’s research has been focused around the question: How do systems, cultures and actors in education enable and constrain justice in the context of globalising Nordic welfare states? In the panel, the JustEd researchers Elsa Eiríksdóttir (University of Iceland), Pia Mikander, (University of Helsinki), Ylva Odenbring (University of Gothenburg), Fritjof Sahlström (Åbo Akademi University) and Kristin Skinstad van der Kooij (Oslo and Akershus University College) summarise the JustEd research findings within their respective areas of expertise. In particular, the panel focuses on the following Nordic dimensions of policies and practices in teaching and learning: classroom interaction and participation, gender equality, inclusion/exclusion and multiplicity, teaching approaches and social justice. The panel is chaired by Anna Slotte (University of Helsinki, Finland), and includes ample opportunities for the public to ask questions and comment the discussed content.