Refugee education in Lebanon

This subproject examines from a critical political economy and global governance perspective the organisation of education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon with a special focus on the ideological foundations of this process. What makes the situation in Lebanese refugee education unique at the moment is the country’s globally exceptionally severe economic crisis that began in 2019 and is still ongoing. The entire education sector in Lebanon is on the verge of collapse. This crisis is likely to politicise the ideological foundations upon which the governance of Lebanon’s education system, including refugee education, has traditionally relied upon. It may also lead to attempts to articulate these foundations anew.

This subproject focuses specifically on the role of human capital theory in the global governance of refugee education. Human capital theory frames educational choices as rational economic investments for individuals, families, and states, primarily intended to maximise the financial benefits derived from education. Human capital theory informs the knowledge production and policy recommendations of numerous international organisations operating in the Lebanese educational context, such as the World Bank. In this subproject, human capital theory is approached as a discursive globalised localism produced in the Global North and as a localised globalism promoted by international organisations in the Lebanese context, informing their knowledge production and activities at large. Of special interest are the ways in which human capital theory can depoliticise refugee education by framing it as an economic phenomenon and the implications such a framing has for decision-making regarding refugee education.


The Middle East in the Global Political Economy: The Case of Lebanon – student course

The course, led by Taavi Sundell and organised jointly by FIME and the University of Helsinki delved into various aspects of Lebanon's political and economic system and used it as a lens to explore broader regional developments. It aimed to understand how, why, and with what consequences Lebanon and the Middle East have integrated into global economic structures.

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War in the Shadow of Gaza: Israel, Hezbollah, and Lebanon

Taavi Sundell's article providing a brief overview of the tensions caused by the Gaza war in the relations between Israel and Lebanon surveys the results from the heightened tensions up until now, particularly in Lebanon, discusses the possibilities of the conflict expanding, and provides background on the situation in Lebanon regarding its limited governance capacity amplified by the present exceptionally severe economic crisis.

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The Economic Foundations and Aims of Higher Education: Capitalism and Contingency in the Construction of Academic Worlds

The lectio praecursoria presented by Taavi Sundell in the public defense of his doctoral dissertation on March 4, 2023, has been published in Finnish. In his lectio, Sundell emphasized the importance of considering the diversity of economic and academic worlds in discussions about the relationship between universities and the economy. Economising discourses and policies are concerning as they often narrow the accepted goals for universities, science, and education. Furthermore, they are often based on simplistic views of the (capitalist) economy.

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