PI: Francisco O. Ramirez Co-PI: Patricial E. Bromley Stanford University

There is little theory or data to explain why textbooks in some countries are more likely than others to emphasize the protection of human rights and the rights of historically disadvantaged groups, such as women and minorities. Further, little is known about how much education systems have changed over time towards greater emphases on rights. This research develops a unique primary source of data consisting of over 600 high school history, civics and social studies textbooks published since 1970 from 70 countries. It will examine the features of books and countries that explain expanded emphases on rights discourse.

BROADER IMPACTS: The study contributes to developing an account of global changes in civic education, and it gives us insights into the concern by governments worldwide of building national identity by balancing the rights of individuals and diverse social groups.

Project Report

Funding was used to support data collection for a dissertation that examines high school history, civics and social studies textbooks to learn how far education systems worldwide have progressed from depicting society as rooted in a homogenous, bounded nation-state toward a view emphasizing multicultural diversity and human equality. Textbooks are central to efforts to socialize particular views of citizenship because they define legitimate knowledge and desirable social attributes, and also communicate preferred concepts of identity. Financial support enabled the construction of a unique primary dataset consisting of a longitudinal and cross-national sample of 521 textbooks from 74 countries. These efforts generated research that has already seen substantial success in a broader scholarly and educational community, as described below. The recipient of the award, Patricia Bromley, completed her dissertation and graduated in June 2011. This funding provided support at a critical period in her development as a scholar, contributing to success disseminating the findings and securing an academic job as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Utah. Findings empirically demonstrate the rise of attention to human rights, the rights of a range of diverse groups (such as wome and minorities), and a general empowerment of individuals in many countries around the world. This research is some of the first to attempt a large-scale longitudinal and cross-national comparison of changes in civic education. A number of research papers using this data have been published and are listed below. Conceptual findings are reported a number of top-tier scholarly journals (e.g. Sociology of Education, Social Forces, and Comparative Education Review), and findings with a more applied component appear in outlets read largely by K-12 practitioners (i.e. teachers and administrators). One publication, about the reframing of the Holocaust in terms of human rights, received the award for Best Publication by a Graduate Student from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Global and Transnational Sociology. This same publication appeared in an internationally well-regarded journal published by Unesco and is scheduled to be reprinted as part of a book in 2012. Further, the initial findings of this research have been presented at numerous academic conferences in the US and in Europe. The success of this line of research has encouraged us to continue to make it a central part of an on-going research agenda. DISSERTATION ABSTRACT Fundamental world changes that simultaneously undermine the charisma of the nation-state and promote the rise of a supra-national system are a striking feature of modern global society, with wide-ranging effects inside national states and societies. My dissertation empirically examines the effects of social and cultural globalization on systems of mass schooling, a central institution in every country. I examine the extent to which the original, nationalizing purpose of schooling is challenged through the rise of emphases on universal human rights and diversity in civic education. Hierarchical linear models are used to analyze a unique primary data source of over 500 social science textbooks from 70 countries worldwide spanning the period 1970-2008. Findings show a worldwide increase in emphases on human rights and increasing emphases on diversity in Western Europe and North America. Cross-national, quantitative analyses are complemented by a qualitative case study of social science curricula in British Columbia to examine the form of nation-building in a context of high emphases on diversity and human rights. This study is one of the first to theorize that civic education worldwide is moving away from a national focus, and to provide empirical evidence of this trend. A key implication is that mass school systems are being repurposed away from their original goal of constructing a unitary national citizenry and towards a new view emphasizing human diversity and equality in a globally-interconnected world. Further, students are increasingly taught that global civil society and non-state actors are important and legitimate agents of social change. Publications Bromley, Patricia, Meyer, John W. and Francisco O. Ramirez. Forthcoming. "Student Centrism in Social Science Textbooks: 1970-2005." Social Forces. Bromley, Patricia, Meyer, John W. and Francisco O. Ramirez. Forthcoming. "The Worldwide Spread of Environmental Discourse in Social Science Textbooks: Cross-National Patterns and Hierarchical Linear Models." Comparative Education Review. Bromley, Patricia. 2011. "Multiculturalism and Human Rights in Civic Education: The Case of British Columbia, Canada." Educational Research 53, 2: 151-164. Meyer, John W., Bromley, Patricia and Francisco O. Ramirez. 2010. "Human Rights in Social Science Textbooks: Cross-National Analysis, 1970-2008." Sociology of Education 83, 2: 111-134. Bromley, Patricia and Susan Garnett Russell. 2010. "Holocaust as History and Human Rights: Holocaust Education in Social Science Textbooks, 1970-2008." Prospects: UNESCO’s Quarterly Review of Comparative Education 40, 1: 153-173. Bromley, Patricia. 2009. "Cosmopolitanism in Civic Education: Cross-National Trends, 1970-2008." Current Issues in Comparative Education 12, 1: 33-44. Ramirez, Francisco O., Bromley, Patricia and Susan Garnett Russell. 2009. "The Valorization of Humanity and Diversity." Multicultural Education Review 1, 1: 29-54.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Patricia White
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Stanford University
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