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Mobility and education

About the research unit

This research unit explores intersections between human mobility and educational practices, aspirations, and institutions. Mobility comes in many forms. As people, we move through physical space (geographical mobility) as well as through social space (social mobility). We move through time – such as a life course (generational mobility), and through compartmentalized spheres of everyday life (home, school, college, work, leisure, places of worship). Moreover, our ideas and knowledge move both with us and independently of our physical mobility.

This unit comprises a comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of theoretical and analytical approaches to the interplay of mobility and education. A central question is how different perceptions, practices, and regimes of mobility and education shape people’s lives, social identities, and positions in society.

Another central topic is the interface and interactions between people’s educational aspirations, national educational systems, and transnational educational markets and the ways in which mobile people navigate these.

Our current research interests can be divided into the following themes:

Educational migration and mobile livelihoods

This research explores the role of institutionalized education – ranging from primary and secondary schooling to higher education – in mobile livelihoods across regional and national boundaries in the context of hegemonic global orders, and how this is linked to individual and collective expectations of geographical and social mobility. Inspired by the transnational paradigm, the research explores the role of networks, forms of connectedness, and ideas of belonging in processes of educational migration.

Internationalisation, student mobility, and the mobility of knowledge

Using a historical perspective on higher education institutions and a life history approach to students and professionals, this research explores interrelated processes of place-making and knowledge-making in the context of the internationalisation of higher education and North-South development projects in higher education.

In some countries, doctoral and post doc students are required to move beyond national borders as part of policies to internationalise or to forge a sense of Europeanness. In addition, these policies also promote other forms of mobility – between disciplines, sectors, peripheral and metropolitan countries, and social classes – with the aim to create mobile and flexible workers for the ‘knowledge society’.

This research examines how students and researchers experience such (demands for) mobility and how this impacts on other aspects of their lives and careers.

Professional trajectories and highly skilled migration

Seeking to explore the intersections of geographical, educational, legal, and social mobilities, this research focuses on transitions from education to labor markets in the context of professional migration. It raises questions about the ways in which such complex interrelated mobilities contribute to transforming prevailing categorizations of immigrants (i.e. highly skilled and low skilled), their own ideas of ‘deskilling’ and ‘reskilling’, and changing perceptions of the global order.

Movement and human mobility in everyday life

Important aspects of mobility are the micro-processes of daily life and routines, how people ‘do’, feel, and practice mobility. Mobility is an embodied and emotional practice in which people employ different strategies. This micro-orientated approach to mobility as practice includes the skills, rhythms, routines, and coping strategies in everyday life and the bodily micro-practices of ways of for example walking, waiting, and doing nothing.

Generational dynamics of mobility and education

While families may move together from one place to another, individual members experience these moves differently, due to differences in age, generation, and expectations connected with being young or old, a child or an adult, or somewhere in-between.

This research explores the meaning and impact of geographical mobility on life experiences, trajectories, and learning processes across generations. Comparative investigations, spanning pastoral nomads, refugees, labour and educational migrants, aim to understand learning processes – across age and generation – that are generated by moving from place to place.


Name Job title Email Phone Building
Adriansen, Hanne Kirstine Associate Professor hka@edu.au.dk +4593508015 D, 275
Anderson, Sally Associate professor Emerita saan@edu.au.dk +4593508151 D, 286
Christensen, Tina Wilchen Postdoc tinc@edu.au.dk +4528992005 D, 247
Juul-Wiese, Thilde PhD Student thi@edu.au.dk
Larsen, Birgitte Romme Associate Professor brl@edu.au.dk +4593521750 D, 283
Nielsen, Gritt B. Associate Professor gbn@edu.au.dk +4587159564 D, 261
Valentin, Karen Associate Professor, Deputy head of school for research kava@edu.au.dk +4587163824 A, 301d
Winther, Ida Wentzel Associate Professor idwi@edu.au.dk +4551890434 D, 266
Wright, Susan Professor suwr@edu.au.dk +4587163628 D, 260