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Pasi Sahlberg Named Visiting Professor of Practice

Pasi SahlbergHarvard Graduate School of Education has named Finnish educator and scholar Pasi Sahlberg, former director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in Finland, a visiting professor of practice beginning January 2014. During his lengthy career, Sahlberg has focused on international education policies, educational change, and classroom teaching around the world.

“I am very pleased that Pasi has agreed to join the HGSE faculty as a visiting professor of practice,” said Dean James Ryan. “He will be a tremendous asset to our students — especially those studying international education and education policy — and his expertise will be invaluable to the school as we define and execute a strategy to help ensure that children around the globe have access to meaningful education.”

Sahlberg will be developing a comparative international course on high-performing education systems.

“I am excited to join the Harvard Graduate School of Education, hoping that my international experience in education policy and reforms will enrich teaching and research at HGSE,” Sahlberg said. “Finland’s education has become a benchmark for other countries in building better performing school systems. But people still too often think that the Finnish model can be transferred to the United States or other countries. I see HGSE as an ideal place to understand better how educational ideas can or cannot be transferred, and what would be the global rules of change in education.”

In his most recent position as director general of CIMO at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki, Sahlberg worked with the Finnish government to promote internationalization and tolerance, creativity, and global ethics in Finnish society through mobility and institutional cooperation in education, culture, youth, and sport.

Prior to his work at CIMO, he held positions at the World Bank in Washington D.C., the European Commission, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at the latter he served as an external expert advising foreign governments in more than 45 countries around the world.

“In my international work, I try to encourage political leaders to learn from one another not to imitate what they see in well-performing education systems,” Sahlberg said. “We need new solutions to redesign all education systems in the world. Universities have a critical role in helping others to see the world as it isn’t. That is our challenge.”

Sahlberg began his education career working as a teacher, and then as a teacher educator and policy adviser in Finland where he actively engaged in planning and implementing education reforms in the 1990s.

In April 2013, Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?, spoke at HGSE’s Askwith Forum about the global education reform movement.

Sahlberg’s work promoting educational changes both in Finland and internationally have earned him the 2012 Education Award in Finland, the 2013 Grawemeyer Award in the United States, and the 2011 Upton Sinclair Award. Currently, he sits on the boards of several education organizations including the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education (IASCE), and the Centre on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB). He is also editorial board member of Journal of Educational Change, European Journal of Educational Evaluation and Research, and Educational Policy Studies Journal.

He received his Ph.D. in education sciences from the University of Jyvaskyla, a teacher’s diploma from the University of Helsinski, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Turku.