08 SES 02, Intercultural Encounters, Diversity and Education for Peace
This paper presents an empirical study on teachers’ ethical reflections during a North–South study visit as part of a teacher development course. Environmental and sustainability education (ESE) addresses a broad spectrum of ethical and moral issues that relate to social, economic, ecological, and cultural aspects and their interrelation. This paper focuses on a crucial moral aspect of sustainable issues, namely our relations and responsibilities to others in a global context. We make an inquiry into how a North–South study visit can arise ethical reflections where people rethink their own and others’ situated values and actions. More specifically, the purpose is to investigate how teachers reflect on moral situations during an intercultural experience, and what might teachers learn from such an experience.
Our empirical material consists of onsite interviews and observations of seven Swedish upper secondary teachers who face particular conflicts of interest and moral situations in a first-hand intercultural experience. The study visit is part of a Sida-funded in-service training programme called the Global Journey aiming “to foster intercultural dialogue and education in global issues for sustainable development in preschools, schools and adult education”. Global Journeys provide opportunities for groups of Swedish teachers and educational professionals to spend an intense period of time in a country in the Global South. The visits are part of a structured process of learning, planned a year in advance and evaluated four months after the journey. They are also part of teachers’ continuing professional development and an overarching objective with Global Journeys is also that the teachers’ experiences will be incorporated into their teaching and shared with their own teacher teams and students at their schools.
This type of continuing professional development is often regarded as an approach to moral education that can provide alternative perspectives and rich opportunities for learning. It also emphasizes how environmental and sustainability issues are closely intertwined with cultural issues. Recent research shows that it is now possible to speak of an inclusion of a cultural dimension within ESE, and how cultural differences and intercultural dialogue can be seen both as a challenge and an asset to sustainable development and education. Though there are research studies on teachers’ experiences of intercultural study visits there is not much research on detailed and in-depth studies of what happens in the actual encounter in terms of ethical reflections. In the final section we discuss the educational implications of ethical reflections in relation to such study visits and the educational value of traveling to meet others.
 Sida stands for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
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