Professor Dalene Swanson


Education University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Professor Dalene Swanson

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About me



I am Professor of Education and Social Science. I am committed to democracy and socio-ecological justice in education and society. I specialise in theory and praxis that addresses complex transdisciplinary global challenges associated with social and ecological stresses in 'glocal' context.

Project (+ £1 million) WATER AND FIRE: Enhancing capacity and reducing risk through 15 'best bets' for transformative adaptation with vulnerable residents on the Cape Flats.

This is an international research partnership with the University of Cape Town (Future Water & Safety and Violence Initiative), the University of the Western Cape (Political Science) , and Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation NPC, and residents of the Cape Flats, Cape Town.

There are three international, interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research Associate positions associated with the GCRF Water and Fire project. One is based at the lead institution - University of Stirling, and the two at the Universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape.

My research interests and expertise span reconceptualist curriculum perspectives, mathematics education, cultural studies, critical theory, critical / ethical internationalisation in education, democracy in education, and social and ecological justice. I am interested broadly in critical, sociological and political perspectives in education and society. I mostly write from poststructural and de/post-colonial perspectives. In particular, I have expertise in critical global citizenship, democratic education, and indigeneity, especially the African onto-epistemology of Ubuntu. Philosophical and social concerns around poverty, marginalisation, (neo)colonialism, oppression, as well as my research into what I refer to as “the construction of disadvantage” frame much of my work. Research foci on economic development and globalisation in education reflect ongoing concerns around justice and democracy. I also have expertise in critical arts-based and narrative methodologies (especially the qualitative methodological approach I developed, 'critical rhizomatic narrative'), and other creative, post-foundational and counter-hegemonic research and writing methodologies and practices. I also bring arts-based approaches to bear on mathematics education as a decolonising practice. 

My research interests and academic reputation cohere around four areas related to global social and ecological justice and critical creative approaches in education. These four interrelated areas of expertise are:

A) reconceptualist curriculum studies; social and ecological justice education in ‘glocal’ context; critical global citizenship education, democratic education; ethical internationalisations.

B) critical mathematics education and STEM; difference, disadvantage and educational exclusion in/through mathematics education practices and discourse; the politics of mathematical and scientific knowledge, and mathematics as a discourse of power.

C) indigenous onto-epistemologies (such as Ubuntu); alternative worldviews; and de/post-colonial perspectives in education and society.

D) (post)critical arts-based, narrative and creative methodologies, including arts approaches to mathematics / STEM.

Having been influenced while in Canada by reconceptualist traditions of curriculum studies, emanating from the Americas, Australia, and elsewhere, now increasingly accepted in the field of curriculum studies, I approach these four strands of research exploration and expertise as intricately interrelated. Together, they cohere around a notion of currere, the infinitive form of curriculum derived from the Latin, referring to a course that is run or a journey that is undertaken. In this vein, ‘currere as method’ in Education has come to be understood as reflexive ‘complicated conversations’, as an ongoing, often-circular project of mobilisation for justice-oriented, engaged pedagogical and socio-ecological action. This process of deliberative justice seeks to socially reconstruct the public sphere towards more hopeful possibilities of more-just, alternative futures. (See: Pinar, W. (2004). What is Curriculum theory?, NY: Routledge). In my own methodological approaches to currere, each interwoven strand of theoretical, research and praxis exploration has at its heart this reflexive educational/narrative journeying articulating with the ethical imperative of ‘glocal’ social and ecological justice in education and society.


2016 / 2017 University of Stirling Excellence in Teaching Award, in the Faculty of Social Sciences

2015 / 2016 School of Education teaching award.

2014 / 2015 University of Stirling Postgraduate Supervisor of the Year Award (university-wide).

2006 International Institute of Qualitative Inquiry Illinois Distinguished Qualitative Dissertation Award.

2006 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award (Division B: Curriculum Studies).

2005 Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award.

2005 University of British Columbia Prof. Ted T. Aoki Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Prize in Curriculum Studies.

  • I have received several nominations for teaching excellence in Canada and the UK.


Imaginative Education Postdoctoral Fellowship, Simon Fraser University, Canada: 2006 - 2007

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship, held at University of Alberta: 2007 – 2009


Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, June 2016


  1. The SoJo Journal: Educational Foundations and Social Justice Education (Editor-In-Chief: Bradley J. Porfilio, California State University, East Bay; Information Age Publishing)

  2. Comparative and International Education Journal. (Editor: Marianne A. Larsen, published by the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada)

  3. Book series: Cultural Pluralism, democracy, Socio-environmental Justice and Education. (Editors: Paul R. Carr & Gina Théseé; Sense Publishers).

  4. European Journal of Curriculum Studies.


UNESCO Chair in Global Citizenship, Democracy, and Transformative Education, (Universite du Quebec).


Bridge 47 European Network (EADI, University of Bonn, Germany)

UNIVERSITIES UK INTERNATIONAL, (Sub-Saharan Africa Research Group member)


Academic Network of Global Education and Learning (DERC, London) Artsbased Educational Research (ABER) International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME) European Association of Curriculum Studies (Euro-ACS) Mathematics Education and Society (MES) Bridge 47 Northern European Network European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), based at the University of Bonn.


  1. Ethical Internationalisation in Higher Education in times of Global Crisis:

  2. Global Doing Democracy Research Project:


Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research Affiliation - Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies– University of Stirling


Trustee: SCOTDEC Global Learning Centre / Edinburgh External Examiner - Faculty of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal


I am an international educationalist and researcher with diverse, transcultural and transnational experience in education. I have twenty-five years of educational experience in teaching and researching in elementary and secondary schools and universities, with experience in both minority and majority world contexts on four continents. In particular, I have worked with students and communities from diverse cultural, ethnic, socio-economic and linguistic backgrounds, and have engaged in research in these contexts. My research interests and experience include mathematics education, STEM education, curriculum studies, social justice education, democracy in education, critical pedagogy, critical global citizenship, critical intercultural education, and critical educational inclusion. I have taught in multicultural contexts in Canada and in South Africa in highly multi-lingual and multi-cultural and indigenous contexts as well as contexts of socio-economic disadvantage. My work and contributions in the Middle East were also within diverse communities.

In the Faculty of Social Sciences, I am Director of Access to Degree Studies, and am Advisor of Studies for Mathematics Education. I lecture on the Initial Teacher Education programme as well as the Masters in Research Methods, (theory of educational research). I currently supervise seven PhD students, one of which is a supervisor-led collaborative ESRC-SGSSS studentship holder.

Previous positions include:
Professor of Educational Research, Nelson Mandela University;
Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia; Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta; Conjoint Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales; Senior Mathematics Teacher, Collingwood School, Vancouver Senior Mathematics Teacher (and Drama), Diocesan College, Cape Town

Event / Presentation

Researching within contexts of ‘vulnerability’ and stress in sub-Saharan Africa: A ‘new’ or ‘old’ ethic of research partnership and participatory engagement?

Invited presentation by Universities UK International on International Research Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa, held at the University of Glasgow on 27th February 2020

Swanson, D.M. & Chronaki, I. (2017). De/mathematising the political: bringing feminist de/postcoloniality to mathematics education. Plenary presented at The 69th conference of the International Commission for the Study and Improvement of Mathematics Teaching (CIEAEM69), Freie Universitat, Berlin, 15 - 19 July, 2017.
University of Thessaly and University of Stirling

Swanson, D.M. & Chronaki, I. (2017). De/mathematising the political: bringing feminist de/postcoloniality to mathematics education. Plenary presented at The 69th conference of the International Commission for the Study and Improvement of Mathematics Teaching (CIEAEM69), Freie Universitat, Berlin, 15 - 19 July, 2017.

Alternative Understanding of Equity and Their Relationship to Ethics. 13th International Congress on Mathematical Education

Power and Poverty – Whose, Where, and Why?: School mathematics, context and the social construction of "disadvantage". 30th Annual Meeting of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education

Power and Poverty - Whose, Where, and Why?: School Mathematics, Context and the Social Construction of "Disadvantage". 30th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education

Re-imagining social justice in mathematics education through 'imaginative relevance'. 4th International Conference on Imagination and Education: Opening Doors to Imaginative Education: connecting theory to practice
Simon Fraser University

Voices in the Silence. The Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group Annual Conference
University of Calgary

Anti-oppressive Education and Imagination: Living in the 'place of the impossible'. 3rd International Conference on Imagination and Education, Imaginative Education Research Group
Simon Fraser University

"Disadvantage" and School Mathematics: The Politics of Context. Ninth International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning…/2002/index.html

“Disadvantage” and School Mathematics: The Politics of Context. Ninth International Learning Conference

Lessons from the Penumbra: ‘Glocalising’ Critical GCE
University of Stirling
Blog interview on as part of the Bridge47 European Knowledge Exchange Partnership conference. My interview discussed my presentation on the role of critical global citizenship (education) in fostering alternative futures, the tensions between ‘the social’ and ‘the ecological’, and local and global, and on the need for reflexivity, reciprocity, and glocalising pedagogy and praxis.

Situated Meaning-Making: Teacher-Researchers as Bricoleurs. 2006 Annual Conference of the Western Canadian Association for Student Teaching