Developing European best practices in education: depoliticisation and the political function of examples

In this seminar Natalie Papanastasiou from the University of Amsterdam presents the emerging findings from a 2-year individual postdoctoral project. The seminar draws on political ethnography of a European Commission (DG-EAC) Working Group which develops best practices in the area of school governance, and consists mainly of national representatives from ministries of education across Europe.  

The project builds on existing literature on the governance of education in Europe’s Open Method of Coordination (OMC) by gaining rare access to European meetings as a way of understanding the process through which European knowledge is developed.

The focus of the seminar is twofold:

  1. Presenting analysis of how Working Group meetings reinforce the dominant discourse of depoliticisation in the OMC, in other words, how politics is ‘emptied out’ of education policies so as to enable the discussion of best practices and ‘what works’.
  2. Analyzing the role of examples: best practice are conceptualised as powerful problem-solving tools and knowledge practices in policymaking.

About the lecturer:

Natalie Papanastasiou is a postdoctoral researcher currently based at the University of Amsterdam and holds a 2-year research grant from The Leverhulme Trust. Her research explores the politics of education governance and policymaking in local, national and European settings. Natalie’s theoretical interests include exploring the potential for political geography to enrich the study of politics, and investigating the relationship between knowledge and policy. 

She holds a PhD in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh and her work has been published in the Journal of Education Policy, European Educational Research Journal, Critical Policy Studies and Environment and Planning A. Her upcoming monograph The Politics of Scale in Policy: scalecraft and education governance will be published by Policy Press in April 2019. (

Published July 14, 2017 11:04 AM - Last modified July 14, 2017 11:04 AM