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Dr Will Brehm
20 Bedford Way
Dr Will Brehm profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • IOE - Education, Practice & Society
  • UCL Institute of Education

Dr. Will Brehm is an Associate Professor of Education and International Development at the IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society. He is also an Adjunct Researcher at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study, Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan) and an Honorary Adjunct Professor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (Cambodia). He supports the World Bank on education-related projects in Cambodia and Afghanistan. Will holds a Ph.D. in comparative education from the University of Hong Kong. He was awarded a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science postdoctoral research fellowship at the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo and was an Assistant Professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study, Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan) for three years. While in Tokyo, Will taught at Waseda’s Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies, the University of Tokyo, Keio University, and Sophia University.

Will is also known for the podcast he created and hosts called FreshEd. The podcast focuses on new educational research and is a valuable teaching resource, reaching an audience in over 150 countries. Episodes have been downloaded over 500,000 times and some episodes have been translated into Arabic, Mandarin, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and French. Find out more about FreshEd.

Research Groups
Research Summary

Dr. Will Brehm's research interrogates the intersection of comparative and international education with international relations and the political economy of development, focused primarily on the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia. A focus on history generally and the methodology of historical materialism specifically are the threads that tie together the different areas of his research. His research career began with a focus on the history of the field of comparative and international education, detailing the ways in which specific individuals and institutions were influenced by US geopolitics during the Cold War. 

In Southeast Asia, Will's research first focused on Cambodia where he explored, both before and during his doctoral studies, various issues of social injustice and education inequality resulting from the system of shadow education, also known as private supplementary tutoring. His interests in Cambodia focused primarily on the ways in which historic cultural norms dovetailed with development efforts in the 1990s to produce the conditions under which private tutoring became necessary and acceptable, despite the inequality that it produced. This research is pulled together in his book entitled Cambodia for Sale (2021, Routledge), which was called a 'pathbreaking inquiry.'

The next stage of Will's research career focused on the inverse of his previous interests in Cambodia while also looking comparatively across countries: instead of exploring how history determined the present, Will shifted to the way in which the present interprets history. This research strand focused on the development of a regional identity through education systems across five countries in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia. It explored the struggles between regional and national identities by looking at the process of history curriculum design at the regional level inside UNESCO Bangkok and at the national level inside five ministries of education.

Will's most recent strand of research looks at the history of an idea. Specifically, it looks at the way in which the idea of human capital theory developed, evolved, and gained prominence in international development and education. 

Teaching Summary

Dr. Will Brehm teaches on the MA in Educational Planning, Economics and International Development. He is a module leader for "Planning for Education and Development."  He also teaches on the Education Studies BA where he is the module leader for "International Development and Education."

01-OCT-2021 Associate Professor Education, Practice and Society UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom
25-NOV-2019 – 30-SEP-2021 Lecturer in Education and International Development Education, Practice and Society UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom
01-APR-2017 – 10-NOV-2019 Assistant Professor Waseda Institute for Advanced Study Waseda University, Japan
30-SEP-2015 – 31-MAR-2017 JSPS Post Doctoral Research fellow Graduate School of Education The University of Tokyo, Japan
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