Palestra “Inclusion and Special Needs Education – a Nordic perspective”

14 Fevereiro 2024

Sala de Atos

Ispa – Instituto Universitário

O Ciclo de de Conferências do Ispa recebe a palestra Inclusion and Special Needs Education – a Nordic perspective. A Professora Heidi Harju-Luukkainen reflete sobre a forma como os países nórdicos abordam a inclusão e o apoio a diversos alunos em contextos educativos.

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This presentation provides a snapshot of inclusive education practices within the Nordic context. It draws upon insights from latest publications, to explore how Nordic countries approach inclusion and support of diverse learners in educational settings. At the focus of this discussion is the collaborative efforts among educators, parents, and the wider community in building inclusive school environments. This approach underscores the necessity of a holistic view of inclusion. In this presentation an emphasis is placed on the professional development of educators. Equipping teachers with the skills and knowledge needed is crucial for fostering inclusive learning environments. This presentation delves also into effective strategies and practices that have been adopted across Nordic countries, demonstrating how tailored instruction and sensitivity to individual needs are central to success. Additionally, the role of policy and legislation in crafting these inclusive educational frameworks is critically examined. This presentation provides a deeper understanding of how Nordic countries have developed inclusive practices and principles within their education systems. The presentation not only showcases successful practices but also engages in a critical analysis of the prevailing issues. It identifies areas where improvements are necessary and points towards potential avenues for future research and development in the field.


Heidi Harju-Luukkainen works as a full Professor of education at the University of Jyväskylä (JYU; Finland) and at the Nord University (NO; Norway). At the University of Jyväskylä she works as a Vice Director of the Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius campus and is also the director of the educational sciences including class teacher education, special teacher education and early childhood teacher education. She is a member of the Jyväskylä University educational council. Further, She leads a research group as well as the doctoral program in education, where she supervises and teaches. Harju-Luukkainen is also the founder of Chydenius Learning Lab, an interdisciplinary infrastructure supporting research and UNESCO/Unitwin management team member. In Norway (NO) Professor Harju-Luukkainen leads an international research group and teaches on PhD level. Further, she holds a PhD in Education, a Qualification in Leadership and Management and a Special Education Teacher and Subject TeacherQualifications from Finland. She has been working broadly in the world, in five different countries, in top ranked universities like the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC), University of Gothenburg (GU) and University of Helsinki (HU).

Her research interests are broad and interdisciplinary but have mainly been focusing on questions related to education. She has worked in more than 40 different research and developmental projects in Europe and in the USA. At the moment she have several ongoing research projects. In 2021 she was funded with a research group by Norwegian council of Norway for a Norwegian National Centre for Research on Special Needs Education and Inclusive Practice. Also further she is doing innovative research in the Sámi indigenous ECEC context in Norway, funded by the Research council of Norway. Through the Universities of the Arctic network she is involved in multiple other international projects like Distance Teaching and Learning in the Arctic Communities (DistARCTIC) and Transformative Teacher Education for the Sustainable North (TTE). Further, she was recently funded by the Swedish Research Council for a project called Inequalities to access in Swedish preschools. Her other ongoing projects are connected to global, inclusive or minority questions. She is also a leader of two international research groups called Teaching and learning in a time of change and Social justice and diversity in education. 

During her career she has published extensively both in peer reviewed journals, international books, as well as scientific reports. Altogether she has published more than 260 scholarly works. She has edited multiple international books like ”Nordic Families, Children and Early Childhood Education” for Palgrave Macmillan, ”Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care – Multi-theoretical perspective on policy and practice” for Springer Nature, ”Special Education in the Early Years. Perspectives on Policy and Practice in the Nordic” Countries for Springer Nature and ”Parental Engagement and Early Childhood Education around the World” for Taylor & Francis. Further she works as an Editor-in-Chief for Journal of Early Childhood Education Research (JECER),  Subject editor for Journal of Nordic Research in Early Childhood Educational Research  and Editorial Board member for Educational Assessment. She has also actively been developing university programs. In Finland she has developed a graduate program in ECEC for the University of Helsinki and Unviersity of Jyväskylä. She has been developing PhD program contents for multiple universities and have had doctoral students across Europe, USA, Africa and Asia. She has had the honor to work at the Ministry of Education in Finland, assessing education nationally, developing the future guidelines for primary education,and working as a principal investigator in the Finnish PISA-team during PISA 2009, 2012 and 2015. She has also worked outside the university context as a President for the Finnish Parent’s Association (NGO) during 2014-2016. At the moment she is also a member of the ethical research committee at NGO Folkhälsan responsible for the ethical guidelines of medical and social science research projects. 

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