The role of education in achieving Sustainable Development – Panel Proposal for CIES 2019: Call for individual papers to be invited in this panel.

The Comparative International Society Conference 2019 San Francisco for its 63rdAnnual Meeting will be focusing on “Education for Sustainability”.  This is a call for invitation to be a part of the panel at the conference. Please find more details about the conference here:


The idea that education has the ability to transform lives, through changing knowledge, values and attitudes, has been well discussed and documented. Supporting quality education provision through government funding is a result of education’s important positive externalities for societal well-being. The Sustainable Development Goals, a collective ambitious agenda agreed on by governments around the world in 2015 and to be completed by 2030, brings together all major objectives of development, and aspires for a world thsat recognizes the need to simultaneously work on the economic, social and environmental aspects of development.

The vision and evidence-based synthesis of how education is a lynchpin for other development goals has been articulated in a few recent publications, such as the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report: Education for People and Planet. At the global level, there continues to be a growing call for better data and more scientific evidence on the linkages between education and other outcomes to inform policymakers. There are also many cost-effectiveness studies that try to influence policy by pointing out how education investments, for instance in early childhood, can yield many multiples in economic returns. However, there is very little attention on what is being implemented, and how. At this rate, it is highly likely that in 12 years, at the end of the 2030 agenda, there will be very few new insights into why we have failed to achieve the SDGs given the lack of emphasis on implementation.

Panel Objective

The goal of the proposed panel at CIES 2019 is to fill two major gaps in the conversation on education’s transformative role in the goal to achieve sustainable development.

  • First, the panel invites experts who are focusing on the roles of education systems in (1) reducing consumption and adopting environmentally friendly behavior; (2) reducing (or exacerbating?) inequality, especially in growing cities; and (3) healing post-conflict societies and supporting diversity in divided societies. Here education will be treated broadly as formal, informal and non-formal learning interventions employed by governments or non-state actors. Shifting the focus to these fundamental challenges of our time opens up the possibility for wealthier countries to learn from practices and innovations in poorer countries, since economic development is but one pillar of sustainable development.
  • Second, the panel will focus on implementation and processes, building on existing evidence-based and more academic and conceptual work on education in the SDGs. While reams of systemic analyses, framework development, and cross-country comparisons are developed by influential multilateral institutions and academic institutions, there is very limited focus on how policies are actually being implemented, or in-depth, objective analysis of policy development and planning processes. With respect to the SDGs specifically as a global agenda, it is clear that as of now on the ground action on the SDGs lacks the research input and policy take-up. There is very little understanding on how SDGs have been made actionable and implemented within countries. There are silos in research, practice and policy making. Cross-sectoral research, policymaking or implementation is rarely practiced due to the inherent difficulties in collaborating across sector specializations in government ministries.

Research Questions

The research questions in this panel are based on an aspirational objective – to understand government and other stakeholder’s actions and their recognitions of the challenges and the successes encountered while aiming to plan or implement education and other systems and interventions in the spirit intended by the SDG agenda. In doing so, the panel will help to highlight government initiatives, programs and practices that truly embody the SDGs – for instance, multi-pronged efforts in Colombia where education, peace and equity were identified as the 3 presidential priorities.

  • How has the SDG global agenda translated to developing action-oriented SDGs at the national and local levels? For instance, how are district level authorities and stakeholders adapting their plans to incorporate the sustainable development agenda?
  • How are government and non-governmental stakeholders conceptualizing and designing multi-pronged, integrated programs, such as those that link education with other SDGs?
  • Who are the “big players” or stakeholders who are pioneering bringing education interventions to the forefront of implementing the SDGs?
  • What kinds of results have been achieved by countries or cities that have strongly prioritized and integrated education into their efforts to improve social inclusion, heal divides or improve environmental outcomes (as part of the SDG agenda or previously)?

To be a panelist

Follow the CIES guidelines given here:

Please submit your 500 words summary to Radhika Iyengar at: or at  by the 10thof September.

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