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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Globalisation, Societies and Education

For a Special Issue on
Can the IB make a better and more peaceful world? Illuminating limits and possibilities of the International Baccalaureate movement/programs in a time of global crises

Abstract deadline
15 September 2021

Manuscript deadline
15 January 2022

Cover image - Globalisation, Societies and Education

Special Issue Editor(s)

Alexander Gardner-McTaggart, University of Manchester
[email protected]

Tristan Bunnell, University of Bath
[email protected]

Julia Resnik, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
[email protected]

Paul Tarc, University of Western Ontario
[email protected]

Ewan Wright, Education University of Hong Kong
[email protected]

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Can the IB make a better and more peaceful world? Illuminating limits and possibilities of the International Baccalaureate movement/programs in a time of global crises

The International Baccalaureate (IB) seeks to develop the well-rounded citizen capable of imagining a different world and a different society and one who is also equipped with tools needed to analytically untangle complex political and economic realities. However, the IB is operationalised in localized school systems, often with strong post-colonial legacies and reliant upon the agencies and outlooks of individual educators and learners. These post-colonial legacies, IB’s elitist aura and the reliance on teachers trained in expensive programs, all question the probability of the IB as a more progressive or critical alternative to official curricula in public schools. This special issue asks if IB can, indeed, make a better world? How does or might the IB navigate the distinction of its brand and privilege of its users alongside its progressive educational mission in a time of increasing global crises.

In its short space of time on planet earth, humanity has witnessed many ongoing challenges to its survival with the ongoing COVID crisis a pregnant reminder of ‘the shape of things to come’. Now, at the beginning of the third millennia facing a range of crises mired in inequity and exploitation, education to foster ethical global citizenship is more vital than ever. We observe the advancing climate crisis, eight billion human inhabitants, accelerating extinction and decline of species, diminishing habitats, the stratospheric rise of the ultra-rich, and beneath it all, the crisis of knowledge validity in an increasingly online medium of opinion and false facts pushing the rebirth of ultra-right propaganda and magical thinking. It is clear that humans need to know and care deeply about their world in order to survive and thrive in it.

Education remains key to democratic futures and empowered citizenry with the commitments to challenge injustice and post-truth cultures, in favour of knowledge that is based upon validity, science, and intelligence. Increasingly however, civic agency finds itself expressed in consumer choices, and alternative truths pervade in conspiracies and ‘opinion as fact’. Nevertheless, science and a critical spirit cannot overlook other ways of knowing stressed by the IB - religious and aesthetic - if we are to embrace a cosmopolitan stance that integrates different populations into a dialogical manner of solving problems in the world.

The IB faces a crisis of its own and it is one of representation. IB graduates cluster in a small portion of ivy-league English speaking Universities. Nearly all state-funded IB schools are in Anglophone countries, and the vast majority of teachers in IB international schools are from Anglophone or other privileged countries. Recruitment policies in IB international schools often favour a small elite club of educators led by a refined cabal of senior leaders, passing and sharing their privilege from one school to another. What these teachers and teacher leaders share is an experience of teacher training (and subsequent teaching) in their host countries under neoliberal finance-driven reforms leading to a de-intellectualisation of the profession. This trend lies in stark contrast to the collaborative, interwoven and intellectual aspirations of teaching and learning in IB programs.

Many educators are concerned with 'the fourth industrial revolution', and with China increasingly appearing to lead the world; albeit, IB’s takeup in China now offers a new and exciting vantage for considering international mindedness beyond IB’s Eurocentric/Anglo-Western foundations. However, experiences of teachers and learners in this niche context are few as is an understanding of the variance between local and expat teachers in such contexts. South America is also opening up to new state forms of IB education, enticing the middle classes into public schools. More globally, international schools are facing increasing pressure to provide diverse teaching communities representative of internationalism and not ‘Englishness’, to redress racist hiring policies of teachers. By necessity, state schools in urban areas lead the way in equitable and diverse teaching, yet international IB schools claim this ground as their own, and little is known as to how private schools can meaningfully claim to be multicultural and international in any other way than in self-belief. The resurgence of the far right and the crisis of knowledge and truth are here. The IB reaches the globally influential and purports to deliver critical competence but appears to do so without examining the international school and community contexts in which the learners’ are to develop critical mindsets. The system issues of teacher de-professionalisation, colonial legacies, and systemic injustice set the broad conditions for assessing the qualities and effects of an IB education.

On the one hand, IB can offer a fruitful alternative to this gloomy educational situation of many state educational systems; yet, on the other hand, it appears caught within ‘progressive neoliberalism,’ limiting its potential for critical self-reflexivity . The IB, despite its huge growth in recent decades, still does not have the capacity to fulfil its mission and deliver its 'potential'. It has little depth in public schools (most deliver one programme, and offer the Diploma to few students), and the K-12 Continuum has never reached beyond 5% of all schools, mainly the core 'traditional' international schools who are increasingly abandoning the project. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind the larger context when thinking on the feasibility of such an expensive and demanding program as the IB. At a time of expenditure cuts resulting not only from neoliberal policies but also from economic restrictions as consequence of Covid19 it is difficult to imagine how governments will allocate sufficient sums to form future citizens capable of transforming our decaying (physical and social) world. In the private sector, the self-serving issues of marketisation bring their own problems, and so the time is over-ripe for a rigorous critical engagement with this educational phenomenon we know as the IB. This special edition aims to present rigorous theoretical examinations of the interplay between the IB system and its actors, whilst considering the role of the IB and international education under the looming challenges of the 21st Century.

We welcome both think pieces and those using empirical work; contributions should be explicitly grounded in theory, and critical pieces will be welcome.

Submission Instructions

We invite abstract submission (500 words) by September 15th, 2021. Please, send abstracts to [email protected] . All manuscripts submitted are subjected to a preliminary internal review by the editorial team, and those deemed appropriate for publication in the journal will be sent anonymously to external reviewers.
The language of this special issue is English, yet we also welcome suitable translations from other languages at the abstract and submission stage.
The timeline for this special issue:

September 15th, 2021: abstracts due (500 words). Abstract submission to [email protected]. Proposals will contain a title, author(s) name(s) and affiliations, an extended abstract, and bio blurb of no more than 150 words. Name your Word Document file Last Name, First Name_Special Issue_Abstract, for example Gardner-McTaggart_Alexander_Special Issue_Abstract.
October 15th, 2021: notification of acceptance of abstract
January 15th 2022: full papers (6000-8000 words) must be submitted to the Globalisation, Societies and Education online submission platform. Indicate that you are submitting it for consideration in the special issue, “Can the IB make a better and more peaceful world on the dropdown menu. Please follow the journal’s standard submission guidelines.
March 15th, 2022: any required revisions needed, based on peer review comments must be submitted to the Globalisation, Societies and Education online submission platform.
July 1st 2022: publication of Special Issue in Globalisation, Societies, and Education.
For enquiries about the scope of the Special Issue and article suitability, please contact guest editor Alexander Gardner-McTaggart ([email protected]) directly.

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