Researcher

Professor Kalervo Nicholas Gulson

Field of Research (FoR)

Biography

I have previously held positions in the Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, Canada and at Charles Sturt University, Australia. I am currently an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2019-2022).

My research is located across social, political and cultural geography, education policy studies, and science and technology studies. My current research programme is focused on education governance and policy...view more

I have previously held positions in the Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, Canada and at Charles Sturt University, Australia. I am currently an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2019-2022).

My research is located across social, political and cultural geography, education policy studies, and science and technology studies. My current research programme is focused on education governance and policy futures and the life and computing sciences. My current research investigates whether new knowledge, methods and technologies from life and computing sciences, with a specific focus on Artificial Intelligence, will substantively alter education policy and governance. Specifically, I am interested in the ways education will grapple with and form responses to these changes, both in the academy and in public debates. 

My programme includes two interrelated projects or ideas: 

1. Education for, and of machines: The impact of Artificial Intelligence on education policy and governance 

 This is a joint international research program between myself, Associate Professor Taylor Webb (University of British Columbia, Canada) & Dr Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK). It will run from 2019 until 2022. The research is funded by and Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant, and a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming a central part of contemporary life. However, AI is being introduced into education policy areas, specifically K-12 systems and schools, much faster than research on its effects or regulation on its use. Definitions of AI are various, but for the purposes of this project AI broadly refers to autonomous computer systems that employ algorithmic networks to learn from patterns in large data sets in order to improve predictive abilities. 

The application of AI in combination with ‘big data’ promises new opportunities to solve complex and intractable social and political problems. These opportunities are extending to education policy, with the utilisation of AI software in data management systems that combine student performance and administrative data. The introduction of AI is also part of new forms of network governance, where ideas and people connect education systems and global and local technology corporations. Along with the opportunities AI brings there is a need for caution, with calls for ‘core agencies’ such as education to no longer use opaque or ‘black-box’ AI systems. To examine the opportunities and risks connected to AI in education policy the aims of this studyare: 

  1. providing new knowledge on the ways the introduction of AI in education governance is creating new connections between governments, laboratories, private companies and school systems; 
  2. understanding how the development and use of AI as autonomous machine-based decision-making: (a) may change how education policy is made and implemented; and, (b) may affect public trust in, and the transparency of, educational governance; and
  3. developing guidelines to respond to opportunities and risks associated with the rapidly changing development and application of AI in education governance and schooling.

The study will investigate these aims by undertaking ethnographic workin the United States (US), United Kingdom, Canada and Australiawith study sites including: industry and academic AI laboratories, technology companies, venture capitalist and start-up locations, ‘EdTech’ conferences, data analysis centres, education departments and schools.

2. Education governance futures, control and automated life

This part of my research is interested in changing ideas of life and how these link to the future of education policy, around themes of augmentation, intervention and computation. The thinking in this part of my programme is being done along with Sam Sellar and Taylor Webb. The premise is that this is a time when following the sequencing of the human genome, where the gene is ‘dynamic’ and flexible leading to a breakdown of biology vs society and biology vs culture.  The implications for education and education policy will include the creation of increasingly influential roles for biological and software code, data and metrics, and new forms of commercialization that are emerging . Additionally, new authorities are emerging in education policy, both as rationalities and embodied experts, and these authorities, are creating new subjects and objects of policy and new predictive claims in education policy analysis.

One part of this work is a publishing project on control and data in education governance and policy. This monograph loosely titled ‘Data Disneyland: Essays on the present and future of education policy’ is about education in the 21stcentury and the role of data in new forms of control, policy and governance. The central premise of this book is that in the world of education, actions taken on the basis of the promise of more control will, paradoxically, produce less control. The combination of data-based promises and a political techno-rationality of policy based on desire for certainty underpins aims to have better control of inputs and better prediction of outputs. As result, so the argument goes, systems and schools will be able to better shape educational decision making. But while we have more data than ever, we know less and can do less.This paradox emerges as control societies regulate and modulate behaviour in distinctive ways that are often not intentional. Generating more and more complex information systems might help us to perform some tasks more efficiently, but we know less about how these systems work and thus have less agency in relation to them.

 


My Grants

2019 -2023

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship

Project title: Education policy, mobility and education policy

Amount: $953,217

 

2018 -2021

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant

Project team: CI P. Taylor Webb (UBC, Canada); Partner Investigators: K.N. Gulson; Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK).

Project title: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Education Policy.

Amount: $140,000

 

2015-2018

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant

Chief Investigator with Bob Lingard (UQ), Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK), Keita Takayama (UNE), Taylor Webb (UBC) & Christopher Lubienski (Indiana University, USA)

Project title: Data infrastructures, mobilities and network governance in education

Amount: $299,142

 

2013

Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Connections Grant

Co-Investigator with Amy Metcalfe (UBC)

Project title: Education Policy Analysis for a Complex World: The Possibilities of Post-Structural Policy Analysis

Amount:  $44,250

 

2010 - 2013

Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant

Co-Investigator (2010-11 while at UBC in faculty and adjunct positions), Partner Investigator (2012)

Chief Investigator: Taylor Webb (UBC) and Co-Investigator: Bill Pinar (UBC)

Project title: Curriculum policy in an Afrocentric school: care of the self during globalization

Amount: $111,590


My Qualifications

BA, Grad Dip Ed, MEd (Hons), PhD (Macq)


My Teaching

Areas of HDR supervision:
I am interested in supervising research students in areas related to the above areas and projects, and anything that is interesting.

View less

Location

Rm107 John Goodsell