Dates for your diary: Comparative Education Conference, May 31-June 3rd, 2016, Glasgow University

Published on: Author: Mark Murphy 3 Comments

The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow is delighted to be hosting the CESE XXVII CONFERENCE (Comparative Education Society in Europe) on the following dates next year:

May 31 – June 3, 2016, Glasgow, Scotland

The theme of the conference is:

Equity in and through education: Changing contexts, consequences, and contestations

Please note that the material below is some preliminary information about the conference content, so that interested parties can consider which working group they would like to get involved with. The official call for papers and opening of registration will happen in early autumn and will be available via the website:


To what extent are education systems fair and inclusive in terms of access, processes and outcomes?  How does education help to create a society that is more – or less – equitable? What can we learn by studying these questions internationally and in comparative perspective? These are some of the broad questions that set the agenda for CESE’s 2016 conference to be hosted by the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the historic University of Glasgow. The CESE Executive Committee, in association with the Glasgow Organising Committee, invites papers that explore the conference theme from a range of local, national and supranational contexts. We encourage submissions which engage both theoretically and empirically with the issue of equity in and through education.

The issue of equity permeates education across phases and sectors, from early childhood, through compulsory schooling and higher education, to adult learning. In the study of such concerns, a variety of social categories becomes meaningful, including gender, socio-economic status and ethnicity, but these also demand critical questioning. Papers are therefore invited that analyze the policies of government and supra-national entities such as the EU or UNESCO, where the focus is on managing the relationship between education and equity. There will also be focus on the analysis of the power of education to interrupt or perpetuate cycles of advantage and disadvantage, and to explore the narratives these create for, and in, the lives of children and adults. In order to encourage and focus discussion and debate, the following six Working Groups (WGs) have been established which reflect diverse theoretical perspectives, evidence bases and methodological approaches:

  •  Education, Knowledge, and Economy
  • Flows, Mobilities, and Migrations
  • Transnationalism, Regionalism, and Educational Organisations
  • Public Policy Strategies, Practitioners, and Interventions
  • Identities, Subjectivities, and Intersectionalities
  • Sustainability and ’Precarity’

Working Group 1

Education, Knowledge, and Economy

CESE Chair: Paul Morris, UCL Institute of Education, England

Local Chair: Oscar Valiente, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Governments across the world are increasingly orienting their education and training systems to the challenges and demands of what is now commonly termed the ‘global knowledge economy’. The demise of Fordist-production systems has increased capital flows and labour mobility and it has also changed intra-state and inter-state trade relations. All these developments have created a changed context that, for policymakers in particular, requires new forms of knowledge as well as new relations between educational providers and the changing worlds in which they are located. As a consequence, policies geared towards the development of high skills economies permeate education with the logic of competition from the early years, through the compulsory cycle and to the vocational and university sectors. In Europe, the EU vision to reshape higher education to support advanced knowledge production and competition across the continent is facilitating deeper interconnections, but also creating tensions between the logic of business and that of human development in its broadest sense. At a global scale, international organisations such as the OECD and the World Bank are not only attempting to align national education and skills policies to the world of work, but transforming the meaning of being schooled or educated today and the shared aspirations of social justice in and through education.

This Working Group (WG) deals with some of the most profound and complex challenges or even contestations facing education in Europe and elsewhere. Whilst encouraging a broad array of papers, the WG will focus upon three themes:

  • Knowledge, curriculum and purpose in education: in which ways are policy demands from supra-national and national bodies influencing the content of education and thus understandings of personhood and citizenship in competitive, knowledge-based, technology-driven economies and societies?
  • Education, skills development and the world of work: as content is transformed so too is the provision of education and training. How does this affect the connections between education and employment and the way we understand what decent work means?
  • Measuring outcomes in education: it is now common to acknowledge the role of ‘league tables’ and international assessment systems (TIMSS, PIRLS, PISA and PIAAC) in shaping public perceptions of the value and purpose of education. The unprecedented increase in the availability of large-scale data sets has radically improved the robustness and generalisability of quantitative research and our understanding of the factors influencing quality and equity in education systems. How are such measurement regimes being embodied as practices and in which ways are these transforming the very thing being measured?

The WG welcomes contributions from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds aimed at understanding the interests driving such transformations and how these are affecting equity nationally and internationally.


Working Group 2

Flows, Mobilities, and Migrations

CESE Chair: Terri Kim, University of East London, England

Local Chair: Marta Moskal, University of Glasgow, Scotland

The question of how to achieve equity in and through education is a classic one in a range of contexts and came close to being a universal value in Europe, North and South America and much of Asia for over fifty years. However, in spite of the long salience of the theme of equity in education, where are we now?

Contestation has occurred: older notions and ideas of state sovereignty and the role of the State in providing public education for its citizens irrespective of religions, customs, gender, and languages, have been challenged by new forms of globalisation, by mobilities and migrations across borders and by ‘neoliberal’ patterns of reforms in public policy (including education). How may we understand these contestations analytically?

The consequences have included, at the policy level, an emphasis on mobility as a hallmark of the European Union to make Europe the most competitive and advanced knowledge economy in the world by 2020. How illusionary and how powerful is this vision now?

This Working Group picks up these themes of contestations and consequences and looks at educational equity in the complex contexts of changing flows, mobilities, migrations of knowledge and the identities of people – staff, students, migrants (including the undocumented) and refugees – within Europe and across the globe.

It is hoped that participants in this WG will engage with – but will not feel restricted to – the following:

  • The implications for education of crossing territorial borders: who moves and who governs? How do questions of rights and equity figure? Whose interests – national, institutional and individual – are served, and how?
  • The issues of transfer, translation and transformation of knowledge, world views and policies.
  • Cultural diversity, marginality, non-inclusion, internationalization, and interculturality in the changing patterns of flows, mobilities and migrations, and their implications for equity issues.

Many papers in this WG will, of course, stress policy analyses but approaches which stress the historical, the sociological, the anthropological and other forms of theoretical understanding of equity, contexts and contestations, and mobilities, are very welcome.

Working Group 3

Transnationalism, Regionalism and Educational Organisations  

CESE Chair: Stephen Carney, Roskilde University, Denmark

Local Chair: Sotiria Grek, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Education has long been legitimated by its concern for issues of access, opportunity and equity. In modern nation states, the formal education system has played a key role in defining such issues and creating values and systems to realize them. Notwithstanding the continued engagement of States and their education systems with such matters, global dynamics emerging from the transformation of market capitalism are bringing new actors and agendas into the field, which are – at least partially – contesting these traditional concerns of education and education systems. Increasingly, issues of equity in education are being shaped by forces and organisations located in new scalar relations to the state and its educational institutions, with consequences for who can define and structure the role of education for societal progress.

This Working Group (WG) will focus on three areas that are of increasing importance in shaping education and its potential for delivering equity:

  • Supra-national systems of governance influenced by the policy visions and priorities of multinational agencies like the development banks and economic-focused policy actors such as the OECD.
  • Regional organisations that supplement but also supplant national educational visions and policies.
  • Attempts by States to redefine educational objectives in early learning, compulsory, higher and non-formal education in ways that reposition the learner as responsible, autonomous and as an entrepreneurial agent working towards ends that are both personal and collective.

Across all three areas we see education being transformed, often by interests that are not necessarily concerned with creating greater social justice through education. How is equity in education being affected by attempts to re-define education itself? Are there unavoidable tensions between the focus on individual capacities and capabilities and collective attempts to develop social cohesion, mutual respect and understanding? Are we moving towards a new model of educational governance and organisation that threatens the very possibility for social justice through education? The WG will not only tease out such questions but attempt to problematize this emerging agenda in education. An equally important aim will be to explore the ways this emerging new agenda is being challenged, contested and remade by organisations, actors and processes that seek to maintain the role of education as a public good for collective well-being.

Working Group 4

Public Policy Strategies, Practitioners, and Interventions

CESE Chair: Vlatka Domović, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Local Chair: Kevin Lowden, University of Glasgow, Scotland

To capture the attention of policy makers, equity has had to compete with other policy themes such as quality, standards, excellence or employability, concerns which have been prioritised for achieving the highly valued policy objective of a competitive knowledge-based economy in the context of solving the economic crisis. In light of these contestations we are immediately faced with a crucial question: how relevant and effective are our current policy strategies for equity in an inequitable society?

Equity research itself has continued to draw attention to persistent differences in the educational experiences and outcomes of various groups and has called for holistic policy interventions to address them. How may we think about this research in fresh ways?  What innovations exist in terms of theoretical and methodological approaches to policy research on equity challenges in education? What does the comparative evidence about equity say, and what are the difficulties in terms of ‘learning lessons from others’? Are there any analyses of ‘error’ – i.e. ineffective policy interventions for addressing equity challenges in education?

Against the background of these challenging questions, the Working Group (WG) will focus on a number of equity issues of importance to practitioners, who work in different contexts and who carry the main consequences of policy interventions:

  • What is the policy framework for equity in different policy contexts and how is this affected by history and political ideology and visions of the future?
  • Clearly there are major differences within Europe (‘north’ and ‘south’ and ‘east and ‘west’) and of course outside of Europe too. Almost everywhere this is a new problem posed by apparently ‘universal solutions’ suggested by the EU or OECD (for example) and local contexts; especially if those are for example in the work of UNESCO seen as ‘contexts of development’. This large theme can be made very specific. For example: what is the OECD definition of ‘a good teacher’ and how does that meld with or contradict existing assumptions in specific places about what is a good teacher and good pedagogy?
  • Consequences: it is often practitioners who bear the initial brunt of policy interventions. For example, there are many demands placed on teachers varying from increasing the performance of their students in national examinations or international surveys such as PISA, scoring well on quality audits, increasing student retention or connecting school activities with the local community. What role does equity in education have in teacher training and are teachers equipped with the necessary tools to address equity challenges in their schools and classrooms? What are other consequences in other areas of practice (e.g. evaluation, salaries)?Overall, then, this WG addresses the interface between policy strategies and practitioner responses, reactions, and difficulties.

Working Group 5

Identities, Subjectivities, and Intersectionalities

CESE Chair: Eleftherios Klerides, University of Cyprus, Cyprus

Local Chair: Barbara Read, University of Glasgow, Scotland

In modern societies, educational systems were created by states to regulate the human subject; here, identities were defined in relation to a ‘norm’ that was often masculine, white, heterosexual, and middle-class, to the detriment of those contesting this norm and identified as women, of black and minority ethnic groups, of the working-classes, as well as of colonised groups, those with a disability, and migrant communities.

Today, in the so-called ‘knowledge societies’, there are new sites where the construction of the ‘self’ occurs (e.g., online classrooms, ERASMUS programmes), new technologies of disciplining the ‘self’ (e.g., benchmarks, comparisons, or, the politics of ‘lagging behind’) and new actors in articulating subject positions (e.g., the EU, the OECD, the World Bank). There are also new imaginings of the ‘self’ (the cosmopolitan citizen, the lifelong learner, the academic entrepreneur, the competent teacher, etc.) and new rhetorics of legitimising their diffusion across borders, for example via the language of ‘efficiency’ and ‘development’. What patterns of exclusion and struggle against inequality are emerging here and what forms of action are needed to bring about equity in and through education?

The Working Group (WG) opens up historical and contemporary themes related to identities and equity. Papers might include any of the following:

  • The changing contexts of/for identity-making: here, papers might explore the ways that changes in geopolitics and international relations, technology and data systems, and capitalist production redefine subjectivities and thus the prospects for achieving equity.
  • The consequences of shifting notions of the ‘self’ in/for society: papers might examine here how national/local and transnational/global imaginings of the subject are intersecting and what this means for the nature of identity and disadvantage.
  • Actors, contestation, and social action: here, papers might consider the subjects and subject positions that are creating and contesting exclusion in education and consider strategies for combating inequality.

WG participants might frame their analyses by region and/or country and could engage with a range of intellectual perspectives and interpretative positions. It would be especially pertinent if some analyses focus on how categories such as gender, class, ability, occupation, race, caste, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation intersect to contribute to systematic injustice and social inequality.

Working Group 6

Economic Transformations, Sustainability and ‘Precarity’

CESE Chair: Anselmo Paolone, University of Udine, Italy

Local Chair: Jesús Granados Sánchez, University of Glasgow, Scotland

In our age, the challenges we are witnessing include several fundamental transformations in the organisation of economic life. Scarcity of resources and environmental challenges are among the causes of a growing search for forms of a sustainable economy. The challenges of scarcity – and of economic crisis – are also used by some actors in the economic scene to justify and implement an ongoing transformation in the nature of work. The consequences of these contestations mean that permanent positions are giving way to precarious jobs and stagnating or decreasing wages, and this especially affects youth. But these new and deep insecurities emerging in the economic context are not only tied to increased economic uncertainty; they are also linked with, and a consequence of, limitations of social rights, threats of violence, marginalization and injustice, symbolic manipulation within the media, environmental degradation and destruction.

Given these new complex challenges to and threats within the socio-political and socio-economic context, the issues of access, opportunity and equity and, more recently, sustainability need to be reappraised. What can historical educational narratives tell us about these issues and what are the new analytical perspectives that can help us to further our understanding? This Working Group (WG) will attempt to wrestle with this complex array of issues not least through the following themes and questions:

  •  In these new contexts we should ask what are educational systems doing, and what should they do to help shape sustainable futures? What are our existing definitions of education for sustainability, how do they promote equity and community engagement and how should our thinking about education for sustainability be changed?
  • We also need to ask how educational systems are responding to these new insecurities and uncertainties: who is affected and how are they contesting ‘precarity’? Illustratively, has the advent of environmental themes and the impact of education for sustainability influenced or changed educational practices and theories on access, opportunity and equity – and if so, how and where?
  • We need also to ask what are our most powerful perspectives – political science, anthropology, critical sociology, post-modernity – and can ‘precarity’ perhaps be better understood, educationally speaking, by transferring the concepts developed in the study of other themes, such as alienation?

The WG welcomes papers from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and interpretative positions that can help us to understand these fundamental economic and social transformations, and their importance to issues of equity in education. 

New Scholars Working Group

CESE Chair: Miguel Pereyra, University of Granada, Spain

Local Chair: Katherin Barg, University of Glasgow, Scotland

The New Scholars Working Group is a traditional feature of CESE conferences. The main purpose of the New Scholars WG is to welcome young colleagues who participate for the first time at a CESE Conference and to provide a space for new scholars to disseminate their research and to contribute to their establishment within the local and international research community.


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3 Responses to Dates for your diary: Comparative Education Conference, May 31-June 3rd, 2016, Glasgow University Comments (RSS) Comments (RSS)

  1. I would be highly interested to attend the conference. Kindly email me further logistic and scholarship details.

    Thank you in advance,

  2. Hi again Hedi! We’ll let you know more details asap – probably in a couple of months. All the best! Michele

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