EVENT Jun 07
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Re-Examining the Mission of Education and the Meaning of Learning in an Uncertain World

Oxford University
Organization: Oxford Department of Education
Event Date: 2017-06-07 to 2017-06-08 Abstract Due: 2017-05-06

If chosen, short essays will be awarded 300 pounds.

Essay length: 1500 pounds


The Centre for Comparative and International Education, in the Department of Education, University of Oxford has partnered with the Aga Khan Foundation and the Global Centre for Pluralism to launch a new programme of research that seeks to examine two pressing concerns:

First, that the rise globally of political and economic uncertainties has invited conflicting expectations of the role and mission of education, and second that the world crisis in education has produced uncertainty about the meaning of learning and conflicting perspectives about where we learn, what we learn, when we learn, and how we learn.

In respect of the first argument, it is now commonplace that each reported incidence of ‘home grown terrorism’, cultural intolerance or even broadly, the rise of populism is attributed to the failure of the educational system. It is at the door of the school that the blame for the fracturing of the political order and the fissures in social cohesion is laid; and it appears that the answers to ‘normalcy’ lie in teaching learners to be ‘global citizens’ or ‘creative thinkers and problem solvers’, that teachers must be (trained to be) ‘open minded’ and that the curriculum must change so that it lays the basis for ‘peace building’ and for ‘pluralism’.

In respect of the second argument, the sense of an undiminishing ‘world crisis in education’ has driven, almost frenetically, a global movement to improve learning outcomes. This has provoked a fierce debate about what learning is, and how, or more to the point, whether whatever it is should be assessed. The debate is seesawing dangerously between the value of measuring cognitive gain and understanding emotional development. Not only is this a false dichotomy; it is dangerous and reductionist. Surely, as old certainties give way to new uncertainties, it is important that we think differently about learning cognitively and learning emotionally.

It is timely to interrogate both these arguments in a more rigorous manner. And it is important to temper the strongly held political and philosophical beliefs of the advocates for change, with the views of those who ‘work’ the system, or those who work within the system


OXSCIE 2017: Re-Examining the Mission of Education and the Meaning of Learning in an Uncertain World, we invite abstracts of no more than 1,500 words on either:

· The role and mission of education in the context of uncertainty or
· The meaning and nature of learning in an uncertain world.

Please refer to the concept notes on the Symposium main website for more background information. Ideally essays will examine the educational response to uncertainty – whether political or economic uncertainty; social, cultural, moral, environmental, scientific, or technological – or any combination of these as they are permeable rather than fixed.

We are casting a wide net across the social sciences, arts and humanities, business schools, medical and engineering sciences. We also invite practitioners, policy-makers, and donors to submit abstracts.

We aim to select 24 of the best abstracts, judged as such by an interdisciplinary panel, to each then form a 15 minute presentation at OXSCIE 2017. The presentation will then be worked up as a paper of between 6,000 and 8,000 words for publication.


For more information, visit oxfordcie.org/abstracts



Naseemah Mohamed