How research into citizenship education at university might enable transformative human rights education




This article presents a new research design for pedagogical research at university. The design demonstrates how personal and cultural citizenship education can be a form of transformative human rights education by nurturing citizens who challenge patterns of exclusion. It draws on shared traditions of citizenship and human rights education that have focused on lived experiences of injustice and uses spaces that mitigate prevailing power structures. These ideas have shaped a new pedagogical action research design that uses theories and practices of transformational learning, authentic reflection, and participatory theatre to stimulate ‘becomings’ in civic identity and agency. ‘Becoming’ is a form of dialogical knowledge arising from profound moments of empathy and solidarity. In these moments participants recognise the human dignity of excluded others and share experiences of injustice, which expands their sense of community and agency. The research design is a potential alternative to more market-driven global citizenship education at university.  


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Author Biography

Piers von Berg, University of Plymouth

Piers von Berg is a Lecturer in Law at the School of Society and Culture at the University of Plymouth. His research centres on citizenship and human rights education at university and youth justice.  More broadly, he is interested in theories and innovative methodologies for teaching and learning at higher education, and socio-legal research into the rights of children and young people. Before studying for his EdD at the Institute of Education at University College London, he practiced at the Bar of England and Wales (2010-2018), and worked on technical assistance projects in the Caucasus and Central Asia (2000-2006). 


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How to Cite

von Berg, P. (2023). How research into citizenship education at university might enable transformative human rights education. Human Rights Education Review, 6(1), 30–51.



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