Professor Sobe's research examines the global circulation of educational policies and practices with a particular interest in the ways that schools function as contested sites of cultural production for the making up of people, peoples, societies and worlds.
One of his current lines of scholarship examines research methodologies in comparative education, specifically around how notions of context, the nation, transnationalism and globalization/the global can be reconceptualized. Recent publications on "context" in comparative education research include:
- N.W. Sobe & J. Kowalczyk, “Context, Entanglement and Assemblage as Matters of Concern in Comparative Education Research.” in T. Seddon, J. Ozga & N. W. Sobe (Editors) World Yearbook of Education 2018: Time-Space and Mobility (Routledge, 2018), p. 197-204. [PDF available here]
- N.W. Sobe, “Travelling Researchers, Colonial Difference: Comparative Education in an Age of Exploration,” Compare (2017) Vol. 47, No. 3, p. 332-343, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2016.1273760
Professor Sobe also works on the increasingly significant role that data and algorithms play in teaching and in the governance of education systems. Recent publications and teaching on "data in education" include:
- N. W. Sobe, "Problematizing Comparison in a Post-Exploration Age: Big Data, Educational Knowledge, and the Art of Criss-Crossing" Comparative Education Review, 62(3) August 2018. [Open Access]
- Advanced graduate seminar, Loyola University Chicago, Spring 2019 "Data, Algorithms and Educational Knowledge & Practice"
In the history of education Professor Sobe is currently working on the history of affect and emotion in education and focusing on the history of boredom in school. Recent publications and presentations on this line of work include:
- N. W. Sobe, “Boredom and Classroom Design: the Affective Economies of School Engagement.” in I. Grosvenor & L. Rasmussen (Eds.) Making Education: Governance by Design. (New York Springer, 2018), p. 157-182.
- N. W . Sobe, "Attention and Boredom in the 19th-Century American School: The ‘Drudgery’ of Learning and Teaching and the Common School Reform Movement" in Sabine Reh, Kathrin Berdelmann, and Jörg Dinkelaker, (Editors), Aufmerksamkeit Zur Geschichte, Theorie und Empirie eines pädagogischen Phänomens (Springer, 2015), p. 55-70.
- The Slowing Global Order: Changing Contexts of Education and Comparative Research" Lauwerys Keynote Lecture, Comparative Education Society of Europe (CESE) June 1, 2018 (Nicosia, Cyprus)