Valuing the past, sustaining the future


Education, knowledge and identity across three generations in coastal communities

Barn som kutter torsketunger på en tråler Education is seen as a key to ensure sustainable economies worldwide, as a ticket for individuals to succeed in the labor market, and a tool to promote life quality.

High drop-out rates indicate that the relevance of education and schooling for future working life and the social meaning of education - as perceived by some groups of children and youth - are at risk. During the last decades schools have gradually become more theoretical and adapted to the national job market at the expense of local knowledge transferred within the communities. One consequence of disconnecting local knowledge from formal education is that students may fail to see the relevance of what they are learning. The point of departure for this project is that education is contextual and dynamic, conceptualized in a broad sense, including  informal learning, life skills and local knowledge derived through everyday social practices. Furthermore, learning processes are intimately connected to social relations, identity formation and perceptions of social value and belonging.

This project addresses education, knowledge and identity formation among girls and boys across three generations (as perceived by youth, parents and grandparents) of diverse ethnic backgrounds in coastal communities in five countries (Norway, Australia, Cyprus, The Faroe Islands and Ireland). It involves basic research with the expected impact of providing a deeper knowledge base about the shifting and dynamic interplay between education (non-formal/formal), society and working life, bridging past-present-future. The methodology is a comparative qualitative design across three generations, supplemented with applied research, providing a basis of new empirical knowledge to contribute to evidence informed policy and action. The ambiguous aims and scopes call for an interdisciplinary approach, mobilising a wide range of national and international experts.

Photo: Håvard Fossum from the film "Tongue Cutters"

Valuing the past, sustaining the future is a research project funded by the Research Council of Norway (2016-2020), 1.2 million Euro. 

Project organisation

Project Leader: Professor Anne Trine Kjørholt, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Management team/Core research team

The members of MT also act as a core research team. They participate in WP1, 3, 4, 5, being responsible for joint development of the project according to the aims and planned activities, besides being Principal Investigators for case studies in their respective countries. Each WP will be led by one of the collaborative international partners. Further specification of responsibilities will be done in the organisation and development of each WP.

Research team

Professor Nina Volckmar, Department of Education and Lifelong Learning (IPL), NTNU (WP2) 
Professor Mette Bunting, University College of Southeast Norway
Assistant professor Eleni Theodorou, European University Cyprus

PhD Candidates

PhD Candidate Inger Toppen Pedersen, IPL, NTNU
PhD Candidate xx (start January 2018), IPL, NTNU
PhD Candidate Aoife CrummyUniversity College Dublin
PhD Candidate xx (start March 2018), Australian National University

2-4 master's students will be enrolled in the project in each country.

Advisory Board of interdisciplinary international experts

Professor Allison James, Childhood Studies, University of Sheffield. Professor Emeritus David Buckingham, Media Studies, University of London. Professor Ellen Schrumpf, Childhood history, University College of Southeast Norway. Professor Emeritus An-Magritt Jensen, Demography, Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU. Annual meeting with MT to act as a critical friend and expert in all WPs.

National consultancy group

Head of Section Randi Haugen, NTNU University Museum (WP6). Researchers on coastal communities: Professor and Vice-Dean Karoline Daugstad, Department of Geography, NTNU (WP2, 3). Key contacts to educational and business sector in coastal communities: NTNU Bridgehead Aquaculture (in Norwegian), CEO Bjørnar Johansen at Blue Competence Centre, CEO Nils Jørgen Karlsen and project manager Heidi Glørstad Nielsen at Coast Competence Centre of TrøndelagByåsen Upper Secondary School, department manager Eva Marion Arntzen and department manager Kristin Augdal (WP2-6) (see letters of intent). We will also assemble national experts on indigenous and migrants related to education and working life.

Collaborative partners

NTNU University Museum, Head of Section Randi Wenche Haugen (WP6). Experts on drop-out research: Associate Professor Geir Moshuus and Professor Mette Bunting, University College of Southeast Norway.

NTNU Oceans Logo


Blog entry

Havlandet Norge (in Norwegian)

Anne Trine Kjørholt, professor of child research