Public defence of the doctoral dissertation of Laura Miettinen

Title of the dissertation: Visions through mobilizing networks: Co-developing intercultural music teacher education in Finland and Israel

Photo: Eeva Anundi

Opponent: Professor Lori-Anne Dolloff, University of Toronto, Canada
Chair: Professor Heidi Westerlund, University of the Arts, Helsinki


Because of the COVID19-situation a pre-enrolment is required and a maximum of 40 persons can be admitted on-site.


This doctoral dissertation examines the understandings and visions of interculturality and intercultural competence in higher music education that arose from an institutional collaboration between the music teacher education programmes at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland and Levinsky College of Education, Tel Aviv, Israel. The interculturally oriented frame of this study focuses on trans-national and trans-institutional collaboration and networking. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this dissertation combines the field of music education with intercultural education and organizational studies as a way to understand how cultural diversity is and could be approached in music teacher education, and how the envisioned change could be initiated at an institutional level.

Collaboration is strongly embedded in the theoretical starting points of the study, namely Cathy Davidson and David Goldberg’s idea of learning institutions as mobilizing networks and Kai Hakkarainen’s notions of knowledge creation and networked expertise. The concept of intercultural competence has served as one of the starting points of this study, in an attempt to map the participating music teacher educators’ understandings of cultural diversity and interculturality, as well as to evaluate the concept’s potential as a means for music teacher educators’ professional development. By choosing a collaborative approach as its frame, this study takes a social constructionist perspective as its epistemological underpinning, according to which knowledge and reality are produced in social and linguistic interaction. The aim of the design of this study was to enable the mobilization of networks among and between the participating music teacher educators and researchers in two music teacher education programmes in two different countries. This was done by initiating discussion and reflection through focus group interviews and facilitated workshops, aiming at encouraging knowledge creation and networked expertise. Research on and with higher education teachers and practitioner inquiry were chosen as the strategies of inquiry used in this collaborative research. In order to carry out this collaborative research, several research methods for data generation were used in different stages of the research. These included: focus group interviews, individual interviews, and workshops inspired by the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Approach. In the first stage of the study, 11 focus group interviews were conducted, six at the Sibelius Academy and five at the Levinsky College. A total of 29 music teacher educators were interviewed. Following the analysis of the focus group interviews, four in-depth individual interviews were carried out. One music teacher educator was interviewed twice at each institution. In the second stage of the study, four workshops were held, two at each site, with a total of 24 participants. The cyclical progression of data generation and analysis created several layers of co-construction of knowledge between the participants and the researchers, both intra- and inter-institutionally. The results of the study are reported in two separately published peer-reviewed journal articles and three separately published peer-reviewed book chapters. Articles I-IV report the results of a particular stage of the research process. The fifth article considers the ethical and methodological issues of this study as one of the cases examined in the book chapter.

This doctoral dissertation has been an attempt to move closer to the realization of the vision of interculturalization of music teacher education, through a collaborative exploration of the complexities of intercultural interaction and the development of intercultural competence in the two involved music teacher education programmes. The study argues that a more holistic and critical perspective on intercultural competence should be employed when examining it in the realm of intercultural music teacher education. The discussion of the emotional and relational aspects of the developmental process of intercultural competence has aimed at expanding the conceptualization of such competence in an educational context in general, and within music teacher education in particular. The study also argues that nurturing and enhancing music teacher educators’ and music teacher students’ capacity for critical self-reflection and offering music teacher educators opportunities to share and discuss issues and experiences of intercultural music teaching together with their colleagues and students is essential when striving for interculturally competent music teacher education. This dissertation offers new perspectives on how engaging with the issues of cultural diversity and interculturality in music teacher education can play a central role in music teacher educators’ professional development, the development of their programmes, and even whole institutions amidst the challenges of an ever-changing global cultural climate.

More information:
Laura Miettinen

In 2020, it will be 30 years since the first Doctors of Music graduated from the Sibelius Academy. So far, over 200 graduates have completed a doctorate in music. The internationally esteemed and groundbreaking doctoral programmes offered by the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy train professionals for demanding expert positions in the arts, research and educational sector. This event is a part of the anniversary celebrations. 


7.11.2020 at 16:00 – 19:00



Mannerheimintie 13a

00100 Helsinki


Vapaa pääsy

Location on map

See directions