Unit 2 of MTN Education aims at encouraging research by French academics, as much as possible in dialogue with foreign colleagues, on educational policy issues in the broad sense.
More specifically, its aims are fourfold.
1. An open and multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of education policies. This analysis is not restricted to certain disciplines or specialties (for example, the analysis of public policies in political science), nor to certain actors (priority often given to political actors), nor to certain scales of analysis (priority often given to national policies), nor to certain obvious manifestations of such policies (formalized public action programs). On the contrary, as suggested by the rather long name of the Unit, the idea is to favour multi-level approaches, to question the evolution of organisations as well as professions, to take a hard look at the dynamics of instrumentation as well as evaluation, always in a multi- or even interdisciplinary perspective.
2. The importance of comparative approaches to education systems (organisation, results, reforms implemented), and in particular the inclusion of the European dimension whenever relevant. This comparative approach gives an important place to discussions of existing or to-be-developed comparative – especially statistical – tools, but not only: it also remains open to more macro- or qualitative approaches of education policies or specific tools or programs they are made up of, as implemented in different countries or education systems. Lastly, it should be noted that while international comparisons are very important, they do not cover all the activities of this Unit, which also purports to study intersectoral and/or intertemporal comparisons.
3. A dialectical approach to the relations between objects and contexts. The research carried out within Unit 2 is indeed sensitive to the constant back-and-forth exchanges – which most often require an interdisciplinary approach or at least a fruitful dialogue between several research specialties – between an endogenous, and/or substantial and/or micro-approach to the research objects studied, and an exogenous, and/or contextual and/or macro-approach to them.
4. A more in-depth approach of the place of research in the public debate on education. The politicization of educational issues (around secularism or citizenship, for example) and their frequent simplification in the public debate, not only deserves more extensive and in-depth research work specifically devoted to this point – which the Unit is keen to promote – but also professional discussions within the MTN, which the work of Unit 2 could both feed and tool, or at least contribute to tooling.
Two day-conferences have already been held in this perspective, each of which brought together about fifty participants: one on the political and methodological issues of measurement in education, the other on the effects of the “inclusive turn” on the professional practices of teachers in several countries (see below).