CAS Economics and Pedagogy of Early Childhood Education 2018

Scholarship (Bourse d’études) Jacobs Foundation - call for applications

The Jacobs Foundation offers a limited number of full scholarships for this program. Further information can be found here.

To register online for individual modules, click here



3 October 2018 - 29 May 2019
18 ECTS credits
144 Teaching hours






+41 (0)22 379 80 06





Modules can be followed individually
Applications on a rolling basis until the slots in the programme are filled


CHF 7200.-


  • Build a deep understanding of the most innovative educational methods; learn to apply them in any context
  • Obtain a unique international perspective, through expert instructors from the US to Scandinavia
  • Obtain a multidisciplinary understanding of education: pedagogy, neuroscience, psychology, and economics
  • Hands-on learning with direct and interactive, deep-dive experiences
  • Learn to integrate project-based learning, constructivism, design thinking, outdoor-natural education and forest school practices, and the principles of the Reggio Emilia and the Pistoia-Tuscan approaches
  • Become an innovator and problem seeker-solver alongside the children
  • Build strategies for onsite training, capacity development, and investment in early childhood education
  • Acquire expertise in assessing and designing educational programs and policies for early childhood éducation


Professionals working with children, students, and teachers; teachers and directors of preschools, primary schools, and international schools; educational consultants and pedagogical coordinators; international institutions and NGOs; professionals working on educational best practices, designing national and international educational programs, or training onsite teachers in developing countries; international students and professionals


6 modules

  • Children Thinking Made Visible. Video Analysis - Documentation - Constructivism
  • Design Thinking, Empathy and Innovation in Early Childhood and Primary Education
  • The Reggio Emilia and the Tuscan approaches to Education
  • The Role of Self-Reflective Practices - Video Analysis
  • Project Approach, Forest Schools and Outdoor-Natural Classes in Early Childhood and Primary Education
  • Early Childhood Education: a Narrative of Selected Interventions


Prof. Salvatore DI FALCO, Prof. Michele PELLIZZARI, Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM), University of Geneva and
Paola TRIGARI, International Education Consultant, University of Geneva


Paola TRIGARI, University of Geneva


3 October 2018
4 October 2018
5 October 2018


George E. Forman, Ph.D. Emeritus Professor - School of Education University of Massachusetts, Amherst, US. Former researcher at Harvard's Project Zero.


Visible thinking and video recording.

Discussion and practice of video analysis as one of the most effective tool for designing project based curricula and comprehensive interventions and educational models.

A tool for supporting capacity development through self reflective practices; to make children’s thinking visible and engage in research; to adopt reflective practices and help children reflect on their own thinking; to understand the children’s constructive learning, and to re-launch their theories within a constructivist project oriented education.


5 December 2018


Paola Strozzi, Pedagogical Coordinator, Reggio Children.


6 December 2018
7 December 2018


Anna Lia Galardini, Prof. at the University of Florence. Former director of early childhood and personnel programming for the city of Pistoia, Italy; Antonina Mastio, Pedagogista, Pistoia, Italy


17 January 2019
18 January 2019
4 February 2019


Laurent Filliettaz, Professor of Adult and Vocational Education, University of Geneva, Switzerland; Marianne Zogmal, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Interaction & Training Team, University of Geneva, Switzerland


30 January 2019
31 January 2019
1 February 2019


Laura McBain, co-director design school’s K12 Lab, Stanford University, CA, US; Sam Seidel, co-director design school’s K12 Lab, Stanford University, CA, US



Innovators, problem seekers, thinkers and doers.

Design Thinking is a methodology to affect change in teams and organizations and foster a culture of innovation. It is an iterative process used to solve the world's toughest challenges. This module will explore design thinking by actively engaging participants. Using a deep-dive process the participants are immersed as a team into the design thinking process through a situation leading to problem seeking, problem solving and idea creation. With an explicit focus on equity, participants will take on a local challenge centered on advancing equity within the educational community. They will engage in the stages of design which involves how to: empathize with a user, define the challenge facing the user, ideate solutions, prototype ideas and test a solution to a local or global challenge. This module will explore how educators and students can experience learning that stretches them beyond their comfort zone to develop new skills and mindsets. Participants will leave this module with a deep understanding of how design can be used to create equitable outcomes for more students; with the tools to use design within their own context to solve challenges facing education; with a new mindset for advocacy in education.


Day 1   An Introduction to Design Thinking Process and Mindsets

Will introduce the basic methods and processes of design thinking with a rapid cycle challenge. Participants then complete a two-day immersive challenge to develop skill in the phases of design thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test.

Day 2   Day Long Challenge

Will offer an intermediate deep-dive into the methods and processes of design thinking with an immersive challenge. Participants will engage in fieldwork to identify needs and then design solutions for users and test their prototypes to gain feedback.

Day 3   Organizational Implementation

Will deepen design thinking methods for participants to use and apply upon a personal challenge either on a professional subject or their organization. Each individual will structure a plan for managing design implementation and conduct an initial empathy interview with a stakeholder as a first step on the sprint. Participants will leave with prototype of how to apply design within their own context and how to engage others in the process of using design thinking to solve the tough challenges facing education within their communities.

Lead Facilitators

Laura McBain

co-director design school’s K12 Lab, Stanford University, CA, US 

Laura joined the’s K12 Lab after spending 10 years at High Tech High in San Diego, where she held many roles, including the Director of External Relations and the Director of Education Leadership Academy at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. She has B.A. in English and minors in Political Science and Spanish from Miami University and an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At Harvard she workedat the Center for Law and Education developing policy initiatives relating to the reauthorization of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. Her current research centers on transformative change in school.

Sam Seidel

co-director design school’s K12 Lab, Stanford University, CA, US 

Sam joined the after directing Student Experience Lab at the Business Innovation Factory. He is the author of Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011). Sam was the Director of Partnerships, Annual Reviews, and Student Leadership for the Association for High School Innovation, a national network of school developers and replicators funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sam graduated from Brown University with a degree in Education and a teaching certification. He was a Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia University's Institute for Urban and Minority Education, and a Community Fellow at the Rhode Island School of Design.


25 March 2019
26 March 2019
27 March 2019


Markos Zangas-Tsakiris, Consultant-Trainer at Inside-out Nature, Denmark.





The Scandinavian tradition of using nature and the outdoor environment as a learning resource and not simply as a place for children to 'let off steam' has become an important aspect of pedagogy in Denmark- where most kindergartens and early year's settings use the outdoor environment all year round. Over the past decade there has been a growing international interest in using the outdoor environment with children and young people as a way of developing skills and increasing motivation for learning. Recent research studies illustrate that using the outdoors as a learning resource is highly beneficial for physical, mental, social and emotional development in children, young people and adults.


A hands-on module. Our hands will be on tree trunks and stones, on our heads and the shoulders of others, but also on keyboards, books and drawing boards, in order to discover the 'work' of children outdoors and the associated work required from education professionals, indoors and outdoors.




Day 1.   Forest and Nature School Pedagogy

Day 2.   A day in a Urban Forest: immersive experience in Forest and Outdoor Schools Practices

Day 3.   Starting or Upgrading a Forest and Nature School program


Guest Speaker


The course will be conducted by the following expert lead facilitator and outdoor trainer: 


Markos Zangas-Tsakiris

Markos is a consultant-trainer at Inside-Out Nature, leading Danish Forest & Nature School training and consultancy organization. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of La Verne, California, an MA in Environment from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Diploma in Education for Sustainable Development from the University of the Aegean, Greece. He has worked in outdoor and environmental education with the Greek Bear Sanctuary, Organization Earth, and Planet Agents. He runs the Forest and Nature school program at Paichnidagogeio preschool and elementary school in Athens, Greece, where he coordinates the Primary School and nature program for all ages. Since 2004 he has worked in environmental education with a number of NGO's and as a kayak instructor, taking children on outdoor adventures. Markos is passionate about the outdoors, he is more passionate about offering children opportunities to be outdoors and he is even more passionate about inspiring and "equipping" pedagogues to use the outdoors as a learning environment.


27 May 2019
28 May 2019
29 May 2019


Costas Meghir, Yale University, US; Pietro Biroli, University of Zurich; Daniela Del Boca, University of Turin; Caterina Calsamiglia, ICREA-IPEG Barcelona; Michele Pellizzari, University of Geneva; Giacomo De Giorgi, University of Geneva.



Costas Meghir, Yale University; 

Pietro Biroli, University of Zurich; Daniela Del Boca, University of Turin; Caterina Calsamiglia, IPEG; Giacomo De Giorgi, University of Geneva; Michele Pellizzari, University of Geneva 


We analyse selected interventions around the world, focusing on a number of early childhood interventions in the United States, Latin and Central America. For example discussion of Professor James J. Heckman's, Nobel Prize, and his team from Chicago work. We address potential inequality in familial and educational environments of young children; also discuss projects involving the famous Abecedarian and Perry Preschool Projects, as well as many others. We will cover the impact on Cognitive and non- cognitive Skills. The focus is on a deep understanding of interventions in early childhood education; discussing the current evidence on returns to investments in education, and its impact on the importance of early childhood education, versus higher education, for a variety of adult incomes. We provide the tools to design and to effectively measure interventions; to understand the work of lab-schools: implement research in individual schools, measure the effect of changes in their educational practices and draw policy implications. We discuss how imperfect evaluating tools impact the equity and the efficiency of the school system.



Mini Course on Child Development

Costas Meghir 

Professor of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, US


Understanding the process of human capital development and the way that interventions can affect outcomes is central to designing policies that can improve equal opportunity, reduce inequality and prevent the intergenerational transmission of poverty. To study this problem we the economist need a large toolkit: we need to understand the nature of the human capital production function, how parents make decisions on child investments and what they know and understand about the child production function and finally how interventions can affect outcomes. This short course will consist of three parts. First we will consider the estimation of Human capital production functions and we will consider some empirical results in this direction; second we will discuss dynamic economic models of parental investments and child outcomes; third we will discuss experimental evidence on interventions in Early Childhood development.


Costas Meghir - Lectures: 

Lecture 1

Early Childhood Development Interventions and Randomized Control Trials.

Lecture 2

Estimating the Production function of Human Capital – Linear and Nonlinear Factor Models

Lecture 3

Empirical Application to child development in India

Lecture 4

Marriage Markets and Child Development – Some ideas.


Selected References

1. Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation Flavio Cunha, James J. Heckman, Susanne M. Schennach Econometrica 2010

2. Household Choices and Child Development Daniela Del Boca Christopher Flinn Matthew Wiswall The Review of Economic Studies, Volume 81, Issue 1, 1 January 2014, Pages 137–185

3. Estimating the Production Function for Human Capital: Results from a Randomized Control Trial in Colombia Orazio Attanasio, Sarah Cattan, Emla Fitzsimons, Costas Meghir, Marta Rubio-Codina, NBER Working Paper No. 20965 May 2017

4. Human Capital Development and Parental Investment in India Orazio Attanasio, Costas Meghir, Emily Nix, NBER Working Paper No. 21740 Revised in July 2017

5. Using the infrastructure of a conditional cash transfer program to deliver a scalable integrated early child development program in Colombia: cluster randomized controlled trial BMJ 2014; (Published 29 September 2014)Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5785 Orazio P Attanasio, Camila Fernández, Emla O A Fitzsimons, Sally M Grantham- McGregor, Costas Meghir, Marta Rubio-Codina

6. Effects of early childhood psychosocial stimulation and nutritional supplementation on cognition and education in growth-stunted Jamaican children: prospective cohort study. Walker SP1, Chang SM, Powell CA, Grantham-McGregor SM, Lancet. 2005 Nov 19;366(9499):1804-7.

7. Labor market returns to an early childhood stimulation intervention in Jamaica Paul Gertler, James Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto, Arianna Zanolini, Christel Vermeersch, Susan Walker, Susan M. Chang, Sally Grantham-McGregor Science 30 May 2014, Vol. 344, Issue 6187, pp. 998-1001

8. The Marriage Market, Labor Supply and Education Choice, by P.A. Chiappori, M. Dias and C. Meghir NBER Working Paper, Forthcoming Journal of Political Economy 


Pietro Biroli, assistant professor of Economics, University of Zurich - 2 Lectures 

Returns to investments in early childhood: an economic perspective

These two lectures will present a review of the economic literature estimating the returns to investment in early childhood. The first lecture will provide a general framework for understanding the costs and the benefits of investing time and money in the enrichment of the first years of a child's life. The second lecture will critically discuss the current evidence on the returns to such investments, both in terms of parenting choices within the family, and public investment in early childhood education. 


Daniela Del Boca, Professor of Economics, University of Turin  - 1 Lecture

Multidimensional Early Childhood interventions in Developed Countries

NYC (US), Turin, UK and Reggio Emilia


Michele Pellizzari, Professor of Economics, University of Geneva - 2 Lectures 

Measuring the effects of early childhood interventions 

These two lectures will present the most common statistical framework used to measure the effects of policy interventions in the area of early childhood education. After discussing the general notion of causality, we will review some recent studies that have convincingly measured the effects of specific interventions. Finally, we will present a simple set of tools that can be easily implemented by individual schools and teachers to obtain useful and reliable measures of the effects of changes in their education policies.


Giacomo De Giorgi, Professor of Economics, University of Geneva - 2 Lectures

Evidence on Early Childhood Interventions in Developing Countries

- Jamaica

- Colombia

- Brazil

Admission criteria

University degree or equivalent • Work experience • Good command of English

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