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Meeri HellstenProfessor

About me

Meeri Hellstén is Professor in International and Comparative Education and chairs the funded research group ICER

She lectures on the Doctoral Program, the Master's Program in International and Comparative Education and also in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (CeUL), focusing on international education where she also chairs the University network on internationalisation.

Meeri's academic background is international, holding her alma mater and university career in Australia (1990-2010) before arriving at a position in intercultural education at Södertörn University, where she was promoted to full Professor in 2013.

Her research takes an interest in developing understanding of international higher education from a comparative perspective on pedagogy, policy and practice. She has published on the topic of internationalising higher education and is particularly interested in career trajectories among international academics and the ways in which it influences intercultural and transdisciplinary knowledge communities. Her work extends to collaboration with international comparativists on projects focusing on ethical and responsible internationalisation, global education, comparative studies of career choice motives, sustainability in international higher education, migration and indigenous education issues, and developing new methodologies in comparative and international education research applied across the educational research spectrum. She is currently partner in the Nordplus-funded project called Nordpath, on developing Nordic mobility cooperation through intercultural understanding.

Meeri is involved in comparative and international research networks, offering her assistance to a number of journal editorial boards. In 2017 she engaged in the launch of a new journal, titled Nordic Journal of Comparative and International and  Education (NJCIE) and she is immediate past Editor-in-Chief of the peer reviewed journal “Issues in Educational Research” a network in which she holds  an honorary Life Time Membership in recognition of her contribution to NSWIeR.

During her career Meeri has supervised a number of PhD projects to completion, and she is currently supervising three funded PhD student works. Her outreach activities involve developing partnerships with the University of Tokyo and the University of Sydney in an exchange of research and scholarship, faculty development and postgraduate study supervision. Among her Nordic collaborators are the Universities of Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Oulu, and Aalborg, as well as close collaboration with comparativists at Ludwig Maximillian, and Eberhard Karl (Tübingen) Universities in Germany.


For more than three decades of university teaching, I have taken a particular interest in how we may work with various forms of diversity and difference at the university. I have developed an internationalised approach to the scholarship of teaching, from undergraduate to postgraduate levels, and in subjects ranging from statistical reasoning for the behavioural sciences, to pedagogy and policy in the social sciences, to language study, literacy and communication in the humanities. 

As an international scholar all my professional activities are guided by my grounding in comparative scholarship, research and pedagogy. My personal philosophy on education adopts a holistic and internationally sensitive approach to teaching, research, scholarship and leadership in community service. I adopt a constructivist, learner centred and reflective approach to teaching which is based on educational principles of inclusion and values based learning in diverse, vibrant and sustainable scholarly communities. From Wenger’s communities of practice pedagogy I have developed the communities of international scholars approach which I apply to teaching though my research and service engagements.

Current teaching:

Master's Program, International and Comparative Education

  • International and comparative education, 15 ECTS 
  • Introduction to Educational Research Methods, 15 ECTS
  • Specialised Literature (Int.Comp.Ed), 15 ECTS  
  • MA Thesis (Int.Comp.Ed.), 30 ECTS (Course Leader)

Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching

Doctoral Research program

  • Policy, Discourse and Comparison 7,5 ECTS (Course Leader)
  • Researcher in Society 7,5 ECTS


My research career began in 1990 and aims to advance knowledge through international and comparative perspectives on educational policy and pedagogical practice. Education warrants global scholarship. It also requires progressive, inclusive vision and continuing renewal. In contemporary intercultural societies such regeneration is accomplished by novel ideas, holistic sustainable approaches and by implementing educational technologies and multimodal teaching and learning contexts.

The implications of my research speak against the ideologies behind an indiscriminate use of these approaches and instead confirms the internationally sensitive educational offerings worldwide. In terms of enacting upon international educational policy and practice, my research shows evidence against a pedagogical ‘one-size-fits-all’ ideology and predicates for a situated generation of meanings and sustainable international pedagogies that foster holistic educational foundations applied in-situ.

I work towards serving this vision as Scientific Leader of the funded  International and Comparative Education Research (ICER) group at the Department of Education. I also serve the Nordic Comparative and International Education Society (NOCIES) as Vice-President. 

Selected Publications

Books and chapters

Hellstén, M. 1999.  Accounting for Language, Culture and Identity in Educational Discourses: The Case of Indigenous Sámi in Finland, Sweden and Norway. Doctoral Thesis. Griffith University.

Ninnes, P. and Hellstén, M. (Eds). (2005). Internationalizing Higher Education: critical explorations of pedagogy and policy. CERC Studies in Comparative education 16. The Netherlands: Springer. (232 p.)

Hellstén, M. and Reid, A. (Eds.). (2008). “Researching international pedagogies: sustainable practice for teaching and learning in higher education”. Dordrect, Netherlands: Springer. (318 p.)

Hellstén, M. (accepted) Co-creating intercultural knowledge transfer for quality of international education: the case of equity within and across sustainability dimensions, in Baik & Kahu (eds), Research Handbook on the Student Experience in Higher Education.

Denman, B.D. & Hellstén, M. (in print). Comparing Equity and Quality Education, in W.O. Lee, P. Brown., A.L. Goodwin, A. Green, Springer International Handbook of Education Development in Asia Pacific. Springer.

Reierstam, H., & Hellstén, M. (2021). Linguistic diversity and comparability in educational assessment. In Hernandez-Serrano, M-J., (ed), Teacher Education in the 21st Century - Emerging Skills for a Changing World. ISBN 978-1-83968-793-8. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.97405

Hellstén, M. Mickwitz, L., Scharfenberg, J. (2020). Teacher Education in Sweden: revisiting the Swedish Model. In K. Pushpanadham (Ed.), Teacher Education in Global Era: Perspectives and Practices. Singapore: Springer. ISBN 9811540071, 388p.  Pp. 99-114. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-4008-0_7

Buchanan, J., and Hellstén, M. (2020). Ways of getting to know: International mobility and Indigenous education, in "Intercultural Competence in the Work of Teachers Confronting Ideologies". Fred Dervin, Robyn Moloney, Ashley Simpson (eds) London: Routledge. Pp. 219- 236. ISBN 9780367002381. DOI: 10.4324/9780429401022

Ucker Perrotto, L., Hellstén, M. (2017)  Letter writing as a social and artistic process: a cross-cultural dialogue based on international experiences on higher education. In Tatiana Chemi  and Du Xiangyun (eds),  Arts-based methods and Organisational Learning: higher education around the world, Palgrave. Pp. 197-211.

Hellstén, M., and Goldstein-Kyaga, K. (2011). Negotiating professional career through intercultural pedagogy:  Narrative analysis of two senior university lecturers. In Trahar, S., (ed.). Learning and Teaching Narrative Inquiry. Travelling in the Borderlands, London: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Hellstén, M. (2008). Researching international pedagogy and the forming of new academic identities. In Hellstén, M. and Reid, A. (Eds.). Researching international pedagogies: sustainable practice for teaching and learning in higher education. Dordrect, Netherlands: Springer. 

Journal Articles

Tillman, T. Weiss, S., Scharfenberg, J., Kiel, E., Keller-Schneider, M., Hellstén, M. (2020). The relationship between student teachers’ career choice motives and stress-inducing thoughts: A tentative cross-cultural model. Sage Open.

Hellstén, M. (2018). Internationalising Nordic Higher Education: comparing the imagined with actual worlds of international scholar-practitioners. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), Vol 1(2), 2-13.

Weiss, S., Syring, M., Keller-Schneider, M., Hellstén, M., Kiel, E. (2018). Career Choice Motives of Early Childhood Educators: A cross-country Comparison of Four European Countries. Research in Comparative and International Edication, pp, 1-17, DOI: 10.1177/1745499918807035 

Hellstén, M., Ucker Perotto, L. (2017).   Re-generation of the international curriculum: Letters from the International Community of Scholars. European Journal of Higher Education. 7, 3, Pp. 1-16.

Khoo, S., Haapakoski,J., Hellstén, M., Malone.J. (2018). Moving from interdisciplinary research to transdisciplinary educational ethics: Bridging epistemological differences in researching higher education internationalization(s). European Educational Research Journal.. Special Issue 2018, p 1-19. 

Syring, M., Weiß, S., Keller-Schneider, M., Hellstén, M. & Kiel, E. (2017). Berufsfeld „Kindheitspädagoge/in“: Berufsbilder, Professionalisierungswege und Studienwahlmotive im europäischen Vergleich. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 2, 139-162.

Markose, S., Symes, C., Hellstén, M. (2011). ‘In this country education happen at the home’. Acquiring the instruments of appropriation for school success. Language and Intercultural Communication, 11:3, 248-269.

Hellstén, M. (2010). Internacionalizar la Universidad. [Internationalization of the university] Cuadermos de Pedagogia, Cambian los tiempos, ¿cambia la Universidad?, J. and Hernandez, F. (Eds.) Cuadermos de Pedagogia, 403, July, Spain.

Hellstén, M., and Poikela, S. (2009). International scholars for the 21st Century: visions from the teaching floors of Finland and Australia. The International Journal of Learning, 16, 8, 367-376.

Hellstén, M. and Bower, M. (2009). Borderless supervision in higher degree research: consolidating international pedagogies and web-conferencing technologies. The International Journal of Learning, 16, 8, 81-87.

Hellstén, M. (2007). International student transition: Focusing on researching international pedagogy for educational sustainability. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 8, 3, 79-90.


Keynote addresses

Hellstén, M. (2020). Critical Reader of the book: Teaching Practices in a Global Learning Environment by Hanne Tange (Aalborg U). CGHE Book launch and Symposium. Oxford University: Chair Simon Marginson, Nov. 17.

Hellsten, M. (2020). Opening Panel Keynote. Burning Questions International Seminar on Sustainable Development. Oulu University January 15.

Hellstén, M. (2019). Keynote respondent on Opening Plenary and launch of GEMR 2019. Global responsibility. The Nordic higher education perspective. SDG4 Seminar, Jyväskylä University, Ruusupuisto, October 24.

Hellstén, M.  (2019). Professional Development Seminar. “What we talk about when we talk about international pedagogy.” Good Morning with Global Engagement, Studenthuset, Stockholm University, May 14.

Hellstén, M. (2018). “The Fourth UTokyo Strategic Partnership Symposium: Roles of English for Universities in Non-English Speaking Regions” Panel presentation University of Tokyo, March 6.

Hellstén, M. (2015). Building Culturally Responsive Academic Research Communities: Transcending boundaries or bordering ontologies? Keynote presented to the International Conference  Local Meets Global at Ruusupuisto: Education for culturally and socially sustainable development, Jyväskylä University, Oct 20-21.

Hellstén, M. (2015). Reinventing International Higher Education for the Critics of the Conscience of Society? Keynote presented to the International Seminar on Rethinking Internationalisation in Higher Education: Methodological and Conceptual Challenges, CfLaT, Newcastle University, UK, May 13-15th.

Hellstén, M. (2014). Imaginaries of global citizenship: international heuristics of a Nordic case in point. Invited Public Seminar delivered to the Teaching and Learning in HE Research Group at the Newcastle University, UK, Dec. 6th.

Editorial Duties

  • Editorial Board (since 2017). Stockholm Studies in Education, Stockholm University Press.
  • Co-Editor, Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (2016- )
  • Editor-in-Chief, Issues in Educational Research (2011-2014)
  • Editorial Board (since 2014). Issues in Educational Research (IIER)
  • Associate Editor (2007-2011). Issues in Educational Research (IIER)
  • Editorial Board (since 2006). International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives. (IEJCP).

For additional information on projects, research supervision, and consultancies, please click links on right.

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Re-thinking internationalization as social curriculum for generative supervision

    Meeri Hellsten, Lilian Ucker Perotto. European Journal of Higher Education


    This paper concerns research issues on curriculum, pedagogy and the creative use of method in international higher education. It is motivated by the witnessing of a recent shifting in consensus within the global research communities on international education, towards curriculum renewal of shared knowledge within the field. The article enters into an imaginary of alternative pedagogical routes in IHE and contributes to the collective dialogue by way of a case example using creative writing for transitioning from the actual to the possible in international education. The paper narrates a creatively assembled case study on interdisciplinary methodology. It culminates through correspondence between an international doctoral researcher of Fine Arts and a senior scholar of International Education. The article explores autobiographical research accounts about geographical displacement, the subjectivities produced in international scholarly spaces and their new epistemological imprints on the international student transition experience. The article offers generative curriculum insight that combines interdisciplinary methods through which to feasibly implement pedagogical strategies for renewal of internationalized curriculum beyond times of educational crises.

    Read more about Re-thinking internationalization as social curriculum for generative supervision
  • The Relationship Between Student Teachers’ Career Choice Motives and Stress-Inducing Thoughts

    2020. Teresa Tillmann (et al.). SAGE Open 10 (2), 1-18


    The present study compares student teachers’ career choice motives and their relationship with stress-inducing thoughts across five European countries. A previously established factorial structure for career choice motives embedded within self-determination theory was supported. The factors consist of intrinsic motives, such as interest in educational work with children, and extrinsic motives, such as financial security. Furthermore, differences in the importance of these factors in choosing the teaching profession across countries were found. Results further revealed evidence for a link between extrinsic motives and stress-inducing cognitions. Conclusions and implications for teaching practice are discussed.

    Read more about The Relationship Between Student Teachers’ Career Choice Motives and Stress-Inducing Thoughts
  • Moving from interdisciplinary research to transdisciplinary educational ethics

    2019. Su-Ming Khoo (et al.). European Educational Research Journal (online) 18 (2), 181-199


    This article begins with the proposition that inter- and transdisciplinarity offer an important methodological grounding for collaborative HE research addressing complex agendas such as HE internationalization. Internationalization acts as a figure for the ‘troubled’ nature of higher education; hence we begin with the larger problem, discussing the current crises of disciplinary knowledge as the background question. We set out a framework for understanding and conceptualizing inter- and transdisciplinarity as a meta-theoretical approach that problematizes reductive and disciplinary approaches, in favour of research and analytical strategies which can work with, and across, differences. To work further through and operationalize different possibilities offered by inter-and transdisciplinary approaches to HE internationalizations, we discuss the use of tools such as social cartography to do ‘bridging work’ across different disciplinary and theoretical backgrounds and contexts. A non-formal practitioner–collaborator project is discussed to highlight emergent dimensions of collaboration that might otherwise be overlooked. Inter- and transdisciplinarity are not pre-specified specialized ‘methods’ but, rather, are orientations that may take reductive, convergent, divergent or emergent pathways. Inter- and transdisciplinarity can perhaps be best treated as a problematizing and open-ended methodological approach that foregrounds plurality and contestation, orienting research frameworks towards inclusiveness, tensions, unpredictability and complexity.

    Read more about Moving from interdisciplinary research to transdisciplinary educational ethics
  • Linguistic Diversity and Comparability in Educational Assessment

    2021. Helena Reierstam, Meeri Hellsten. Teacher Education in the 21st Century, 110-113


    This chapter reports on recent mixed method research investigating the comparability between assessment in relation to linguistic and cultural diversity. It takes as its premise that assessment is an integral part of instruction that becomes a main component for attaining of equal opportunities. Therefore, assessment plays a key role in terms of the wider consequences at both individual and societal levels. One of the central functions of assessment is its measure of quality assurance and comparability for grading to such an extent that it is readily employed to indicate evidence of student achievement of standards and quality. This may sometimes present issues in terms of learner diversity. We focus on the challenges facing teaching in linguistically diverse learning settings in which a foreign language may be used as an alternative to instruction. Here we draw on a recent study from two separate multilingual learning contexts in Sweden. We shed light on the generic questions arising from such disjuncture in these linguistically diverse educational sites as evidence on a call for much needed scholarly attention on the quality aspect in assessment.

    Read more about Linguistic Diversity and Comparability in Educational Assessment
  • Teacher Education in Sweden

    2020. Meeri Hellstén, Larissa Mickwitz, Jonas Scharfenberg. Teacher Education in the Global Era, 99-114


    The advent of globalization is one of the most transformational projects in modern society. As such, its impact has been urgently sensed in the field and the institutions of education, which are publicly recognized as the most effective instrument in nation building.

    Read more about Teacher Education in Sweden

Show all publications by Meeri Hellsten at Stockholm University