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Education in the times of crises: Reproduction, resistance, change

Looking at education in a broad sense from the perspective of a social-political system, one can realize that it is not free from tensions at the intersection of the market, the state and civil society, as well as within each of these spheres. “How much of the market, and how much of the state?”, “Is the civil society synonymous with free-market activity?”, “How much can and should a citizen accomplish on their own, and where is the support of public institutions necessary?” – these are only some of many questions that appear in this context. Promises of free subjectivity and free choice, the expansion of neoliberal ideology and politics, and the belief in the regulatory potential of the market, clash with the reality of a deepening reification of more and more spheres of life, increasing social disparities, growing insecurity concerning employment, welfare standards and life chances in general. At the same time the position and role of the state remains ambiguous: on the one hand, it is perceived as a recent monopolist in the sphere of public services; on the other – the only efficient rescue when market mechanisms fail or abuses carried out in their name get out of control. Concurrently, social society actors' aspirations for a greater autonomy in acting toward individual and collective interests are being restricted by (written) state regulations and (unwritten) ruthless capitalist-market mechanisms. All these tensions can simultaneously become the causes, symptoms and consequences of a current economic crisis (and its accompanying political, social, environmental and other crises), which is being most rapidly and acutely experienced in the spheres still treated as arenas of the public good, including education.
During the conference we would like to analyze and discuss three aspects of the current “crises situation.” The first is the question of the functions and meaning of the present crisis in the process of the reproduction of the existing order – in the sphere of education itself, through it and in relation to it. The second one is the need for a critical reflection on the types of institutional solutions, social structures (including hierarchies and advancement barriers) and representations (discourses and ideologies) which justify them, that play a role in a still poorly recognized tension between reproduction and change. To what extent does the nowadays dominant story of “modernization” and “reforms” in education stands for progress that will benefit the society as a whole, and to what extent does it serve – along with the discourses about crisis – as a pretext for introducing changes advantageous only to narrow sectors and groups? Equally important is the question about resistance as a response to mechanisms of reproduction. Resistance (in education, through education and against education) could be understood as actions aimed at inspiring reflection on the status quo, creating space for discussion on transformation of educational roles and structures, and sometimes also for active reconstruction of these rules and structures.
The present state of debates in education and related disciplines in humanities and social sciences could be summarized by paraphrasing a classic text from one and a half centuries ago: A specter is haunting Europe, a specter of educational change. Given the now changing meanings of education, its reformulated goals, new places and forms of accomplishment, do we indeed encounter a change in pedagogical thinking, in solutions to educational issues brought forward by a changing educational milieu; who creates that milieu today (who is an educator, trainer, coach or educational broker)? What is education today? What is its place in relation to newly emerging subjectivities, new political identities and so on, where is education and why there? What kinds of alternative visions are given as suggestions of changes within the existing system, as proposals for thorough transformation of as a form of escape outside of the framework of the dominant model? Is going beyond the conditions of the market and the state towards subjective self-education free from reification and maintaining autonomy from oppressive social-cultural conditions desirable and possible?

The conference is open to representatives of different academic disciplines. We believe that an interdisciplinary context of discussion best serves solid reflection on challenges of the present situation. The conference languages will be Polish and English. Plenary sessions will be translated simultaneously.

Important dates

Deadline for sending applications has passed
March 1, 2013 - deadline for payment
April 16-17, 2013 - conference days

Conference fee

Conference fee: 360 PLN (included in the fee are conference participation and materials, publication of selected papers, coffee breaks, two lunches and a conference dinner). Payments have to be made to the bank account of University of Lower Silesia:
BZ WBK SA 13 O/Wrocław PL 33 1090 2402 0000 0006 1001 1564  with “Education in the times of crises: participant's first and last name” in the payment title.


University of Lower Silesia
Faculty of Education
ul. Strzegomska 55, room 514
tel.: 71 356 15 72

Scientific committee

prof. Eric Gutstein, University of Illinois-Chicago
prof. Robert Kwaśnica, University of Lower Silesia
prof. Zbigniew Kwieciński, University of Lower Silesia
prof. Pauline Lipman, University of Illinois-Chicago
prof. Elżbieta Matynia, University of Lower Silesia
prof. Maria Mendel, Gdańsk University
prof. Mirosława Nowak-Dziemianowicz, University of Lower Silesia
prof. Tomasz Szkudlarek, Gdańsk University
prof. Bogusław Śliwerski, Academy of Special Education
dr Hana Cervinkova, University of Lower Silesia
dr Katarzyna Gawlicz, University of Lower Silesia
dr Paweł Rudnicki, University of Lower Silesia
mgr Marcin Starnawski, University of Lower Silesia

Organizational committee

dr Hana Cervinkova
dr Urszula Dzikiewicz-Gazda
dr Katarzyna Gawlicz
mgr Urszula Kłobuszewska
mgr Małgorzata Mikołajczak-Woźniak
dr Paweł Rudnicki
mgr Marcin Starnawski