The HDCA- research group at NLA is an interdisciplinary group that was established in 2011.

 The research group deals with a specific approach called the Human Development and Capability Approach (HDCA).  The approach was first developed by the Nobel Prize winner in Economics Amartya Sen and the distinguished American philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum. HDCA-research is receiving increasing international recognition; it is included in many reports from the United Nations, UNESCO and is also renowned in our Scandinavian context. The Human Development and Capability Association that was founded in 2004, is multidisciplinary and has its annual conferences around the world covering a wide range of thematic topics. 

At NLA University College in Sandviken, we use HDCA in research and teaching activities at the Department of Education and the Department of Intercultural Studies. More specifically, we analyze key topics within special needs education and intercultural education with a special focus on exclusion-inclusion, within general higher educational settings and ethics in business education. In intercultural studies, we work on capabilities, capability deprivation, agency, dignity and wellbeing among marginalized groups in Latin America (Ecuador, Bolivia), and African migrants in Europe/USA. Researchers at NLA are also members of the HDCA-networks within the HDCA-association: Education, Indigenous Peoples, Empowerment and Collective Capabilities, Health and Disability.  

An overarching aim for NLA University College is to foster students’ and teachers’ capacity to reflect critically and ethically, to flourish and to contribute positively in the private and public realm. Therefore, solid knowledge acquisition and prime qualifications are key objectives, albeit incomplete in our daily educational quest. A recurring question is how to foster an ethical discussion about living peacefully together in a complex, pluralistic and unequal society. The HDCA-approach represents a significant opportunity to both disclose privilege (re)production and promote innovative and emancipatory practices in varied contexts. Integrating HDCA-research at NLA’s bachelor and master level within educational and intercultural studies thus is a central strategy to reach that purpose. Furthermore, we include a particular didactical approach called VaKE (Values and Knowledge Education) in the group’s teaching and research activities. Several research projects and publications combining HDCA and VaKE are in progress. The VaKE-didactics are an open teaching method providing concrete discussion-inducing dilemma stories fostering viable problem solutions and relevant decisions.

The research group meets regularly. Our key goal is to nurture common and individual research production in an academic and supportive fellowship.

More specifically, through the lens of the Human development and Capability approach the research group’s scientific goals are:

  • To discuss critically key democratic topics on exclusion processes, the purpose of inclusion, diversity and school policies, anti-racist education and human freedom within the field of special education and intercultural education
  • To analyse and foster students’ moral agency in Norwegian business education through valuable didactical practices
  • To counteract a neoliberal human capital approach and discuss innovative HDCA-teaching practices in higher educational contexts
  • To direct an analytical focus on individual as well as on group capabilities in development cooperation and missionary work with a special focus on gender, indigenous peoples and migrants within the field of intercultural studies
  • To develop HDCA-didactics and combine HDCA-research with VaKE-didactics
  • To make theoretical contributions and produce case studies in scientific journals and anthologies (see publication lists)
  • To develop new research projects and establish collaboration for research and teaching agreements at national and international levels
  • To support each member regarding publication work and teaching activities within HDCA-research.