News from

Political scientist and educational researcher Professor Nina Kolleck from Leipzig University has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant worth up to 1.5 million euros for her research. A professor of civic education and educational systems, she researches the impact of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on educational systems worldwide and across national borders.

According to Professor Nina Kolleck, in many parts of the world, NGOs serve to close gaps in educational systems. Alongside state institutions, international organisations and companies, NGOs have become important stakeholders in the field of education, but their role and influence differ from those of traditional stakeholders. This often leads to transnational cooperation between NGOs, explains Kolleck. “One example is the non-profit organization Teach For All. This global network has brought together NGOs in more than 50 countries to drive change in educational systems.”

However, there has not yet been any research on the transnational influence of NGOs on education systems. With the help of the ERC Starting Grant, Kolleck wants to develop this field of research. “At the heart of this is a new concept I call ‘global non-governmental spaces’, explains the researcher. Specifically, she would like to examine the networks and social relationships between NGOs and their influence on educational systems. To do this, she and her team are planning research activities including interviews and quantitative surveys, as well as collecting and analysing data from social media platforms such as Twitter.

Understanding the influence of transnational NGOs

“We are looking at the impact of NGOs on educational systems, but our findings should also be applicable to their activities in health or environmental policy or human rights,” the educational researcher explains. “It’s important that we understand the impact of transnational NGOs on educational systems, both for our children and for the future of our societies.”

With its ERC Starting Grants, the European Union provides early career researchers with funding for five years at the beginning of their independent careers. Kolleck was selected from more than 3000 applicants, making her one of 408 scientists from all over Europe to now receive one of the coveted Starting Grants. This is the first ERC Starting Grant in the field of civic education in the German-speaking world.

Nina Kolleck has been a professor at Leipzig University since 2019. Previous professorships took her to RWTH Aachen University and the FU Berlin. She was also a visiting professor at the University of California Berkeley, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University. Her current research focuses include democracy education, global citizenship education, educational equity, education for sustainable development, climate education, heterogeneity and inclusion, as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods, especially social network analysis techniques.