Special education has its scientific basis in a number of different subjects, such as pedagogy, medicine, psychology and sociology. Central issues concern the relationship between the organisation of special educational activities in the light of democratic and participatory principles, on the one hand, and marginalisation and stigmatisation, on the other. The subject focuses on everyone’s rights and opportunities in terms of democracy, participation, communication, language and diversity.
The subject concerns the mission of pedagogues and their need of knowledge to keep issues of diversity, variation and participation alive. It is important to address, problematise, explore and analyse the conditions for learning at the levels of the individual, group, and organisation. Our programmes are designed to gradually increase students’ familiarity with the complexity of pedagogical practice, in combination with developing a critical and reflective approach. Karlstad University trains students to take initiative and to manage the development of educational environments, and prepare them for successfully handling variation and diversity among children and pupils who are experiencing difficulties at school, or risk experiencing such difficulties.
At Karlstad University, special education is further characterised as a subject that strives to develop research and education in partnership with practitioners, both to provide quality professional training to our students and to contribute to the development of special educational activities in the region. We therefore collaborate with the regional development centre (RUC). The alumni and network meetings that we regularly organise also form part of this endeavour.
Research on special education at Karlstad University is currently in an expansion phase. During the last five years, various projects have focused on the work done in schools to help pupils who are at risk, or are already experiencing difficulties. This research highlights issues such as organising, managing and designing special educational activities, as well as the professional roles of special pedagogues and special needs teachers. Research about different aspects of language development also forms an important part of the research environment. This includes research on teaching reading and writing from an inclusive perspective in pre-primary and primary schools, as well as from the perspective of literacy. Research about teaching and learning in special needs schools is also important in the research environment.