International school students’ experiences of their local environment – a case study from Qatar

  • Oliver Picton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Interest in children’s experiences of their local environment is growing in education studies, geography and environmental psychology in response to increasing interests in children’s everyday lives and personal geographies. Within international education research, those studies exploring experiences of international school education tend to explore senses of belonging, identity and notions of ‘home’. However, the direct and embodied relationship expatriate children have with their local environment, and experiences of place, is a neglected field of study. The geographical context of this research in a gated compound in Qatar is significant. A growing volume of research from a variety of disciplines, notably urban planning studies, cultural geography and anthropology have started to explore gated communities as a feature of living spaces across the world – often for wealthy nationals and expatriates in countries with more extreme inequalities in wealth distribution. However, research focusing on the experiences of (expatriate) children learning and growing up in such contexts is a limited. This research explores how children living in a gated expatriate enclave in Qatar experience their local environment. With the rise in the number of gated communities and the growth of expatriate enclaves globally, this is a significant area of research with potential implications for educators and communities beyond the case study area. The findings of this research suggest that boundedness and surveillance in the gated community impact interactions with and constructions of space and place, limiting free exploration of the wider environment, host country interaction, and creating binary constructions of insides / outsides and insiders / outsiders. The research suggests ways educators in similar contexts can adapt and adopt geographical theory such as ‘critical thirding’ to help children deconstruct physical, social and imagined boundaries in their local environment, and critically engage with and participate in place-making in their local area. Furthermore, the potential for the incorporation of place-based educational practices is examined.
Date of Award11 Jan 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorElisabeth Barratt Hacking (Supervisor) & Mary Hayden (Supervisor)

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