Research Programme


Research on education usually hones in on public expenditure or a more macro-level approach to educational structures. Hypotheses assign relationships to educational system structure and professional attainment in various sectors. What is less clear is the relationship between educational structure and questions of citizenship, voter behaviour, or attitudes towards democracy or the EU. In adopting the latter approach, the 89 Initiative aims to fill a considerable gap in the policy debate.

Whether populism can be considered an ideology, a movement, or simply a rhetorical exercise that then ends in a policy vacuum, the juxtaposition of the (ignored) people versus the (powerful) elites are at the core of this notion. While an expanding literature is providing a deeper understanding of its symptoms and implications in terms of the failures of democracy, research on its causes is still unsatisfactory. The rise of populism is explained as a consequence of globalisation processes and the inevitable divide between winners and losers of globalisation (Cox, 2017). The aim of the research programme “Civic education and populism” is to look at the causes of populism from the perspective of an educational issue.

The field of civic or citizenship education, and particularly where it interfaces with political participation and voter behaviour, is also relatively under-researched in the political science literature. This is despite educational factors often being cited as important to understanding the appeal of populism, anti-establishment sentiments, or attitudes towards the EU. This programme thus explores different aspects of civic education in the EU and attempts to understand the weaknesses of existing programmes, and other aspects of our education systems. It considers ways that civic education can be used more positively to re-connect citizens with the political process. Our broad research questions are: what is the link between civic education and populism? How is civic education taught in the classroom? To what extent civic education promotes European values and ideas? How does civic education matter for democracy? These questions will be addressed using a mix of qualitative analysis and statistical approaches. After having build an “Ideal” model of civic education, this will be compared with the results of the empirical analysis in order to find variations and elucidate the link between education and populism.

Marina Cino-Pagliarello

Dr. Marina Cino Pagliarello

Research Director

Marina Cino Pagliarello holds a PhD in European Political Economy from the LSE European Institute, where she currently works as Teaching Fellow in European Politics and Public Policy. Marina has worked as education policy researcher and specialist with national/international organisations and governments for over 15 years. In 2018-2019 she was recipient of the ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Industrial Strategy) at the LSE European Institute. Her research interests include public policy, the politics of education, and the Western Balkans. She is specifically interested in understanding the role of political and economic actors in shaping public policies and the mechanisms through which ideas play a role in the emergence of new problem definitions and in restructuring actors’ interests. Marina is also Research Director of the project ‘Civic education and populism’, which is part of the activities of 89Initiative/LSE, aimed at promoting the exchange of innovative ideas between young people across Europe.

Prior to joining LSE, Marina has worked for the National Research Institute of the Italian Ministry of Labour as policy expert for comparative analysis of European education policies and for the Italian Ministry of Education. Marina works also as Research Associate for LSE Consulting, where she contributes as researcher and policy evaluator for several projects on education for a wide range of clients, including the European Commission, CEDEFOP, the European Training Foundation, and the UK Government. In addition to her research expertise, she has taught international relations and management at undergraduate and corporate level in Italy. She is currently working as Senior Evaluator for a British Council project on the Western Balkans. Marina also holds an MRes in European Studies from the London School of Economics, an MSc in Economics of Arts and Culture from SDA Bocconi School of Management and an MA in History from the University of Pisa.



Malina Aniol

Research Officer

Pedro León Sanjurjo Hanck

Research Officer

Tommaso Zonta

Research Officer

Re-Thinking Education in Turbulent Times | Episode 3

Re-Thinking Education in Turbulent Times | Episode 2

Re-Thinking Education in Turbulent Times | Episode 1

An Interview with the Civic Education Research Team | Introducing 89 Initiative

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